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Trade Liberalization, Social Policy Development and Labour Market Outcomes of Chinese Women and Men in the Decade After China’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

image of Trade Liberalization, Social Policy Development and Labour Market Outcomes of Chinese Women and Men in the Decade After China’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

How trade liberalization affects women’s position in the labour market and what role public policy should play to make the process work better for women are among some of the most debated issues in academic communities and in policy-making arenas. This work sheds light on these contentious issues by analysing the trends in labour market outcomes of women and men in China in the decade after its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The publication reviews the changes associated with China’s economic reforms and opening to international trade and investment since the process started in the late 1970s. Since the early 2000s, a wide range of policy measures have been introduced to strengthen labour market regulations, reduce inequality and increase social security. However, most of these policy initiatives were ‘gender neutral’, paying inadequate attention to the institutional constraints that disadvantaged women in the labour market.

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Conclusions

China’s economy has undergone radical change since 1978. Accession to the WTO in 2001 pushed the reform process further and had a direct impact on Chinese workers. The rise in manufactured exports following WTO succession increased the demand for less-skilled labour, the majority of which was supplied by rural areas. At the same time, greater integration with the global economy exposed previously protected industrial sectors and land-intensive agricultural production to greater international competition, exacerbating employment insecurity and income inequalities.

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