Title: The Evolution of Gender Wage Gaps and Discrimination in Urban China: 1988-1995
Reference Number: 1116
Publication Date: October 2004
JEL Classifcation: J16, J31, J71, O53, P23

Sylvie Démurger
HIEBS, The University of Hong Kong and CNRS (France)

Martin Fournier
CEFC (Hong Kong)

Yi Chen
CERDI, Université d'Auvergne (France)


This paper analyzes the impact of market liberalization on gender wage differentials and discrimination against women in urban China at the beginning of the 90s. The observed stability in the overall gender wage gap between 1988 and 1995 is shown to result from a complex set of evolutions across enterprises, earnings distributions and time. Our results highlight the interplay of opposing forces, economic reforms contributing to changes in managers' behaviors in different dimensions. On the one hand, by bringing more competition, liberalization favored a reduction in discriminating behaviors in both urban collectives and foreign-invested enterprises; on the other hand, by relaxing institutional rules, it led to a loosening of the government's egalitarian wage setting policies, thus leaving space for discrimination to arise in state-owned enterprises.


Published in The Developing Economies 45 (March 2007) pp. pp. 97-121.

Key words: gender wage differentials, discrimination, enterprise ownership, urban China

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Last modified: 05/28/2007