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Department ofEconomics


Did Trade Liberalization Benefit Female Workers? Evidence from Egypt on Wage and Employment Effects

Shireen Al-Azzawi

in Women, Work and Welfare in the Middle East and North Africa: The Role of Socio-demographics, Entrepreneurship and Public Policies. Karshenas, M. & Chamlou, N. (Eds.) Imperial College Press


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Egypt has gone through a period of dramatic, albeit slow, economic reform and trade
liberalization process, with average tariff rates being reduced by more than 50% over a period
of 15 years. This study investigates the extent of gender discrimination in the Egyptian
manufacturing sector, and the impact of trade reform on the gender wage gap and on female
employment. Results indicate that the gender wage gap, most of which is “unexplained” by
worker characteristics, is high and has increased dramatically over time. Increasing trade
liberalization has largely had a negative impact on women’s relative wages and on their
employment, even after controlling for the public-private distinction as well as the occupational
distinction. There is, however, some evidence supporting a favorable impact of increased export
intensity on females in the labor market. This has important implications for policy makers
attempting to create more equitable labor market conditions in post-revolutionary Egypt.

LSB Research, ECON, 2016, Shireen Al-Azzawi,