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Impact of Gender Inequality on Social Development Outcomes

Reviewing the literature, it is clear that gender inequality has no positive effects on social development outcomes.

On growth, the net impact of gender inequality is quite ambiguous; it can be a great hindrance to growth or only circumstantially support it. Wages and income are rapidly affected and can change aggregate demand. These differences in wages and income regulate the incentive systems which plan investment in human capital, which in turn affects growth.

Gender gaps in education, on the other side are unfavorable to long term growth, due to the large positive externalities generated by female education, enhanced parental human capital dissemination and reduced fertility.

Gender inequality in health and life expectancy impede long term growth and efficiency due to reduced working lives and lower productivity levels. These health and education impacts are the obstacle produced by gender inequality to social development.

On social development, gender inequality is generally harmful, as equality improves societal health and education outcomes, as well as generating large externalities for society as a whole.

The economic effects of gender inequality are now well recognized, despite the lack of a precise and broad body of research and literature.

Chapters Two and Three emphasize the significance of gender equality in education and health as both are essential determinants of growth and social development. It is vital to continue this target to obtain the gains from improved female education while exercising concern not to overlook men’s own gender particular problems.

Gender equality is definitely a dominant economic tool for economic and social development, requiring the foundation of opportunities for both sexes to maintain long-term growth, economic efficiency, social development and good governance.

Ceteris paribus, there is enough evidence to believe that in the long-run, achievement of the goal of gender-equal opportunities in labor, health and education is far more efficient than the pervasive gender inequality we see today. The policy issue now will be to convert equality of opportunities into equal outcomes. The complexity of gender inequality does indeed stress that there may be a ‘market failure’ in achieving gender-equitable outcomes, but there is insufficient evidence to state whether or not forced outcomes will yield net productivity gains compared with the gender inequality existing conditions.

Gender gaps in health and life expectancy harm a nation’s long term growth and productivity, and in employment they have negative effects on aggregate demand and short run output. Furthermore, female capital per worker has been shown to have a higher return than male capital per worker, and practical application of neoclassical theory shows that a higher steady-state output and growth rate will correspond with capital investment that is skewed towards the female. The benefits and costs to economic growth imposed by gender inequality are clearly skewed so that a reduction in gender inequality is a more favorable outcome to reach a higher long-term growth path, as the circumstantial and exceptional studies are somewhat more myopic and set over a certain period.

Gender inequality may also promote growth in that it is a second-best solution for a male dominated political conflict and civil unrest which arises out of inequality. Having women bear the greater share of a nation’s income inequality, as they have historically done in patriarchal societies, may be a preferred option to society as a whole bearing this burden. It will decrease the likelihood of militant groups forming, and conflict then erupting over income inequality, which would create a far greater obstacle to growth.

All of these findings suggest that gender inequality is harmful for the health and education aspects of social development, while supporting the policy opinion of lessening education and health gaps between men and women – often by targeting women directly.

The other forms of social development previously discussed – health and education – have an important effect on the reduction of poverty and there is a high degree of linkage, especially with the different degrees of poverty and different definitions. These definitions have been broadened from just monetary poverty to include poverty in opportunity, capabilities, institutions and much more.

While gender inequality and poverty are closely related, there is adequate evidence to show that reducing gender inequality only is not enough to reduce poverty. Just as economic growth, education, investment, aid or any other single variable is not enough to address poverty, neither is improving gender equality. Poverty reduction through gender equality will be brought about through a number of means – including health, education, and economic growth.

While positive health and education outcomes are admittedly very useful tools for addressing poverty, the degree to which gender inequality directly determines poverty rates is very uncertain, and we cannot specify that simply improving gender inequality will reduce poverty. The influences of gender equality on human capital and economic growth are far better tools for poverty reduction than blindly putting more women in school, jobs and parliament.



Gender differences in all socio economic aspects of earnings, wages, ability, health, capital and poverty broadened in several countries because women cannot have access and control over resources, gain from economic opportunities, and determine their authority in political field.

The outcome suggests that an exogenous boost in girls’ access to education creates an enhanced environment for economic growth and that the effect is mostly strong for middle income countries.

However the indirect effects on growth happen through the growth externalities of fertility, investments in children.

I have reached the conclusion that gender inequality normally has undesirable effects on all facets of socioeconomic development. Moreover, there are extremely little facts to advocate that any economic effectiveness vs. gender parity trade off exists – gender equality is also gender efficient. Gender inequality is now gradually becoming known as an imperative macroeconomic variable, but still not considered as a major determinant of growth.


The economic effects of gender inequality are now well recognized, despite the lack of a specific and extensive body of research and literature. I have been able to draw some definitive policy recommendations from the research conducted in this project, but there is still much to understand if we are to act effectively and decisively.

International development practitioners have adopted the policy of ‘gender mainstreaming’, but despite this involving both sexes by definition, there is a recurring and persistent focus on women. In advanced economies, women are now more educated than men and male tertiary enrolments are declining,[1] meaning that we should expect to see a decline in aggregate male human capital. This may be a concern, especially if men are better at mathematics and technical sciences. Furthermore, the declining fertility rates of these advanced economies have led to serious skill shortages, population shortages, and structural labor market problems.

This project offers clear evidence that gender equality may assist in poverty reduction through a number of different channels, but that it cannot be expected to directly, independently and systematically reduce poverty. It is recommended that gender equality is never viewed as a ‘magic-bullet’ solution to poverty reduction or ‘development’.

In fact, it appears that promoting gender equality in education and employment may be one of those few policies that have been termed ‘win-win’ strategies. It would promote economic welfare and effectiveness, promote other critical human development goals such as lower mortality and fertility, and it would be intrinsically valuable as well.

The task at hand is to develop a framework to understand and deal with the reinforcing social and economic structures of gender inequality.

[1] WDI, 2009

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