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Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region

requirements for starting a business and (where relevant) trading across borders. This analysis is exploratory, and further analysis of sex-disaggregated research and data on the East Asia and Pacific region’s business environments and regulatory burdens would deepen our understanding of the most binding constraints on female entrepreneurs. The ultimate goal of this publication is to highlight these constraints and to suggest areas for reform that policy makers may tailor to the needs of different countries. Removing these constraints and investing in women is, to borrow from Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, a “low-hanging fruit” in the project of creating prosperous, equal societies.

Notes 1. We define the region according to the World Bank regional classification, which includes both developing East Asia and Australia and New Zealand. For interregional (including quantitative) comparisons on specific issues, the focus is usually on developing East Asia unless otherwise noted. However, we include case studies from the developed countries (including the United States, which is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] country but not an East Asia and Pacific country) because they present examples of regulatory good practice, public-private dialogue, and women-friendly workplace policies (such as maternity leave provisioning) that are potential blueprints for positive change. 2. Klasen and Lamanna’s analysis concentrates on developing East Asia and does not include developed APEC countries such as Australia and New Zealand. 3. More specifically, the data point to the combined effect of gender gaps in education and labor force participation, as a proxy for gender gaps in employment. 4. We must acknowledge the possibility of reverse causality, which is not easily discernible by this kind of cross-country work. In particular, the question is whether greater economic opportunity for women increases growth in East Asian and Pacific economies or whether higher income levels (due to better growth performance, driven by factors other than women’s economic equality and access to education) lead to policy reforms that, in turn, foster greater economic participation by women. Klasen and Lamanna control for this possible endogeneity (as well as for unobserved heterogeneity) in their regressions by adopting a panel data framework. Their estimations treat each decade of the 40-year period under study (1960–2000) as one observation using initial values of the explanatory variables. By using the beginning-of-decade values of the labor force participation and education gap variables and regressing on end-of-decade growth figures, one can expect that endogeneity will be at least partially controlled.

Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region  

The East Asia and Pacific region has made great progress, relative to other regions, with regard to both economic development and, specifica...