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Despite the general presumption in favor of trade liberalization, the question of how to implement it in a way to ensure equitable income distribution and sustainable…
Despite the general presumption in favor of trade liberalization, the question of how to implement it in a way to ensure equitable income distribution and sustainable poverty alleviation in developing countries is at the core of the current trade debate. We build a macroeconomic framework that integrates both market and non-market activities, while distinguishing male and female workers throughout, in order to evaluate impacts of tariffs elimination on men and women in South Africa. Our study reveals a strong gender bias against women with a decrease in their labor market participation, while men participate more in the market economy. This strong result is due to the fact that female workers are concentrated in contracting sectors that were initially among the protected sectors and that benefit little from the fall in input prices. In contrast, male workers are more concentrated in the expanding export-intensive sectors. Female labor market participation drops particularly for Black African women, as they are more concentrated in contracting sectors. As male labor market participation and real wages increase more than for their female counterparts, their income share increases within the household. Women continue to suffer nonetheless from a heavy time use burden given their increased domestic work with trade liberalization.
For equity, societies may wish to eliminate certain forms or manifestations of inequality. Horizontal equity and vertical equity in the income tax are topics which have interested me for some years. Although any shortfall from each of these objectives can be measured in terms of unwanted inequalities, equity per se is a different concept from equality. Equity relates to fairness, justice and other societal norms which give expression to the best aspirations of our collective social conscience. For example, equal access to health care for those in equal need is an accepted norm for horizontal equity in the health field. Vertical equity in this context means treating appropriately differently those who have different needs. When offered the opportunity to be Guest Editor of this volume of Research on Economic Inequality, I decided to define the focus simply as “equity”, without placing any further restriction on topics. The papers which were ultimately included in this volume are the ones, from among those offered, which survived a rigorous refereeing process. Each has its own “take” on the concept of equity, and its link with equality. I hope that you, the reader, will gain from reading all of these contributions and pondering their significance.