Stability becomes all the more crucial in the face of recurring crises in the world economy that may lead to severe recesses. One of the ways to make a given country’s economy more stable is diversification, as highly-specialized countries exporting only a small range of products are generally more vulnerable to the fluctuations in the world market (Kazandjian, Kolovich, Kochhar, & Newiak, 2016, p. 4). This need for diversification of both output and, by extension, export raises a valid question of which factors contribute to creating more diversified and, therefore, stable national economies. In a well-structured paper, Kazandjian et al. (2016) posit that gender inequality correlates with and affects economic diversification, but their work may benefit from greater attention to previous research and contradicting evidence.
The overall argument of the article – that gender inequality has a negative effect upon diversification of both output and export – rests on two premises, the first of which is the correlation between these two variables. The authors posit that the gender gap in opportunities, especially education, has a strong negative impact on export diversification, especially in “low-income and developing countries” (Kazandjian et al., 2016, p. 13).
They also demonstrate that gender inequality has a considerable negative association “with output diversification in low income and developing countries” (Kazandjian et al., 2016, p. 14). The authors evaluate export and output diversifications in the countries they study according to the World Bank World Development Indicators (Kazandjian et al., 2016). As for gender inequality, the main source the authors use to establish its levels in different countries is the United Nations Gender Inequality Index (Kazandjian et al., 2016). Based on their analysis and use of these sources, the authors establish a consistent correlation between gender inequality and export and output diversification that undermines economic stability.
However, establishing a correlation is not enough to assume that gender inequality actually affects diversification. A highly-specialized economy and low enrollment and labor force participation rates among women may both be effects of the same cause rather than influence each other directly. This is why the authors take specific care to establish a causal relationship between the two and distinguish the actual effect of gender inequality upon economic diversification (Kazandjian et al., 2016).
They achieve it by employing the instrumental variable generalized method of moments that allows them to isolate “the causal effect of the country-specific degree of gender inequality” (Kazandjian et al., p. 13) from other factors. As a result, the authors are able to distinguish the effect of gender inequality upon export and output diversification from the other factors, including the effect of diversification on inequality.
The authors present and develop their argument in a logical and consistent way. The first part of the paper covers the motivation behind the research and explains why the topic is important and how declines in commodity prices may adversely affect national economies, especially resource-based ones (Kazandjian et al., 2016). In a literature review, the scholars offer a brief survey of relevant scholarly works concluding that, as of now, there is no study concentrated on the causal effect of gender gaps on export and output diversification (Kazandjian et al., 2016).
After that, the researchers cover their empirical methods in sufficient detail (Kazandjian et al., 2016,). Then follows the description of the results achieved, supplemented with four figures, five tables, one box, and two appendices (Kazandjian et al., 2016). Finally, the authors discuss the implications of their findings and conclude that they have highlighted a “new channel through which gender equality boosts growth” (Kazandjian et al., 2016, p. 21). This logical presentation follows established academic standards and adds to the clarity and persuasiveness of the authors’ argument.
The authors’ use of preceding scholarly literature is generally solid and provides for a well-conducted literature review, but they have still overlooked some aspects of the problem. In the introduction, the collective of researchers stresses that export and output diversification and, therefore, gender equality is of particular importance “in resource-intensive economies” (Kazandjian et al., 2016, p. 4). This remark would suggest correspondingly greater attention to gender equality in resource-intensive countries specifically, but on the following pages the authors only speak of low-income and developing countries in general (Kazandjian et al., 2016).
Such lack of attention is a downside, especially since there are scholarly works concentrated on this very subject. In “Oil, Islam, and Women,” Ross (2008) has established that, as a rule, oil- and gas-based economies tend to “reduce the role of women in the workforce” (p. 120). This means that resource-intensive countries have a specific factor affecting female participation in the workforce – that is, one of the key variables studied in the article – but the authors do not account for this factor. Hence the authors’ response to preceding scholarly literature still leaves something to be desired.
While the argument is generally convincing, there is a factor that negatively affects its overall persuasiveness. At one point, the authors acknowledge that the gender wage gap may have “a positive effect on export-led growth in semi-industrialized export-oriented economies” (Kazandjian et al., 2016, p. 10), though not in the agricultural ones. Immediately after that, the researchers state that they will not account for gender wage inequality “due to the lack of extensive and reliable data” (Kazandjian et al., 2016, p. 10).
While this justification is as reliable as any other, it still raises doubts in the audience. If gender income wage indeed affects the economic growth positively in export-oriented countries, this goes against the authors’ basic premise of gender equality as a way to stable economic growth. Such contradiction demands a detailed explanation, and the lack of such detracts from the overall quality of the paper. Consequently, the authors may appear to the audience as consciously ignoring the evidence that contradicts their hypothesis or at least may force them to correct it.
As one can see, the article by Kazandjian, Kolovich, Kochhar, and Newiak offers a well-structured and generally convincing argument on the interrelation between gender inequality and economic growth. Starting with the premise that diversification is essential for economic stability and growth, the authors attempt to establish the influence of gender inequality on output and export diversification.
They make two claims on correlation and causal interrelation between these two phenomena and prove them through well-conducted empirical research. The organization of the text is clear and straightforward, with the argument developing in a logical manner. However, the authors’ insufficient response to preceding scholarly works on the subject leads them to overlook factors affecting gender inequality in resource-intensive economies specifically. Additionally, on one occasion, the authors may appear consciously ignoring the evidence on the gender wage gap that contradicts their central points.
- Kazandjian, R., Kolovich, L., Kochhar, K., & Newiak, M. (2016). Gender equality and economic diversification. Web.
- Ross, M.L. (2008). Oil, Islam, and women. The American Political Science Review 102(1), 107-123.