Does Higher Education Empower Women? Evidence from China's Higher Education Expansion



ShanghaiTech SEM Working Paper No. 2019-006

Wei Si 

ShanghaiTech University  

Empowering women and closing the gender gap are key issues for economic and social development. This paper explores whether and how higher education can empower women. Taking advantage of China's higher education expansion in the late 1990s, I examine the impact of higher education on increasing women's educational attainment, reducing gender stereotyping, promoting women in the labor market, and changing outcomes in the marriage market. The results show that the reform significantly increased higher educational attainment for both women and men. However, gender ideology became more traditional, especially for women. Women's opportunities in both the labor market and marriage market became more disadvantaged after the expansion. The results suggest that higher education expansion policy itself is inefficient to change rigid gender norms and eliminate the gender gap. Introducing policies that directly improve the disadvantaged status of women and guarantee gender equality in both the labor market and households is vital to foster female empowerment.anech University

Keywords: Higher education expansion, Gender norms, Gender inequality, Labor market, Marriage market

Date Written: December 6, 2019

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