Alice Goldstein(Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University)、Sidney Goldstein(Departmant of Sociology, Brown University)
CHINA'S LABOR FORCE: THE ROLE OF GENDER AND RESIDENCE
Alice Goldstein (Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University)、Sidney Goldstein(Departmant of Sociology, Brown University)
Although the People’s Republic of China emphasizes the importance of women in national production, traditional norms as well as the indirect effects of policies have perpetuated sharp differences in the occupational structure of men and women. At the same time, level of urbanization clearly mitigates some of the differences. Data from the 1982 census indicate, for example, that for many occupations, sex ratios in rural areas are twice as high as in cities. Women are also overrepresented in those areas requiring the lowest levels of skills. In cities, male and female labor force and occupational patterns tend to be more similar.
Information from surveys in two of China’s largest cities, Shanghai and Guangzhou, documents the continued existence of gender differences in occupation and income. That the differences are not greater is in large measure the result of strict State control of wages and the extremely limited opportunities until the mid-1980s of engaging in private enterprise. Nonetheless, both levels of urbanization and cultural norms continue to have a strong impact on gender differences in labor force participation and income. Of particular interest are the sharper differentials in income in Shanghai compared to Guangzhou.
These gender differences may change as a result of the rural and urban economic reforms which are increasing the temporary and permanent population mobility and job changes. The new opportunities for work in service and petty retail trade (free markets) or in small, low technology manufacturing enterprises have promoted greater female participation in the labor force. Since these are low-skilled jobs, however, they are not likely to lead to more equitable distribution of income or an increase in women’s skills. Furthermore, the flexibility that the reforms give to individual enterprises in managing hiring practices means that traditional discrimination against women workers may again be a factor in determining job opportunities.
There is no doubt that Chinese women have made great progress as a result of both official policy and the modernization process. On the other hand, the data indicate that beliefs are still prevalent that some activities are more suitable to men and others to women, and that women are less likely to achieve high status (income) positions. As modernization proceeds, however, and as education and the impact of the one child family becomes more widespread (the only-child daughter may be particularly influential), we would expect some of these differentials to narrow. Based on the experience of more developed nations it is highly unlikely, however, that they will disappear soon.
Labor force, Gender, Urbanization, Occupation, China, Income Differ-entials