NEW YORK — Working women throughout the world have long complained of the unfairness implied by lower pay than what men receive. But the wage disparity between men and women is more than unjust. It is also economically harmful.
Economists at the International Monetary Fund have calculated that the “gender gap” costs the world billions of dollars in economic growth each year. A cross section of 40 poor and rich countries shows that there is a strong relationship between women’s economic and social status, and overall economic growth. Women’s lack of education, health care, and economic and social opportunities — both absolutely and relative to men — inhibits economic growth. By contrast, economic growth ameliorates women’s subordinated condition.