This report provides analyses of the consequences of the rapidly increasing globalisation in the first fifteen years of the 21st century for employment by gender. It first presents an overview of the literature of trade-related economic mechanisms that might affect employment of males and females differently. Next, it argues that the period considered was not only characterized by an increasing trade intensity, but that also the nature of trade changed. With the diffusion of global value chains (GVCs) as a dominant way of organizing production processes (permitted by the internet revolution and strong trade liberalisation policies), countries did no longer only specialise in industries, but also in performing specific activities within industries. This phenomenon is called functional specialisation. The analyses in this report study the implications of changing trade patterns for male and female workers from the perspective of functional specialisation.
Using the 2016-release of the World Input-Output Database and data from population censuses and labour force surveys, we sketch trends in the relative employment levels of male and female workers by business function (fabrication, R&D, marketing and management). As expected, clear differences between the ‘old’ EU member states and the Eastern European countries that became members in or after 2004 emerge. With the exception of management, the shares of female employment in total employment were consistently higher in Eastern Europe. This also showed up in an analysis of export specialisation in productsthat contain relatively much female labour, in particular when one focuses on employment in the fabrication function. Over the period considered, the differences between the two sets of European countries decreased.
The final part of the analysis focuses on isolating the effects of changes in international trade from other types of changes, such as changes in technology and changes in the relative numbers of male and female workers required to produce a unit of a final product (which is the output of a GVC). For employment in fabrication, we find very negative trade effects for both female and male employment in Western European countries, and positive effects for most Eastern European countries. The negative effectsin Western Europe tend to be slightly smaller for female workers than for male workers. For other business functions, both the differences in the effects between Western and Eastern Europe and those between male and female workers are much less marked.