Economic Growth and Social Reproduction: Gender inequality as cause and consequence

This paper examines how growth, social reproduction and gender equality are connected in ways that make care work a key determinant of macroeconomic policy outcomes, growth and development. The paper begins by developing a conceptual framework for thinking about economic growth in ways that can explicitly accommodate processes of social reproduction and the dynamics of gender inequality. It develops a set of regimes that link structures of economic growth with those of social reproduction.

The second part of the paper then groups countries by economic structure, level of development and structure of social welfare provising to determine where they fall among the regimes of growth and social reproduction. The emphasis is on understanding how increasing gender equality in the labour market will affect larger processes of growth and what kinds of limits the structure of social reproduction places on the potential for development and growth. The paper concludes by underlining that social reproduction is essential for growth, and the social and economic circumstances under which it takes place determine the precise nature of this relationship as well as chart promising pathways for change. This paper was produced for UN Women's flagship report Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016 to be released as part of the UN Women discussion paper series.

Additional documents