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Asian Studies | Education | Labor Economics | Women's Studies


This paper attempts to explore the connections between expanding female education and the participation of women in paid employment in Japan, China and India, three of Asia's largest economies. Analysis based on existing data and literature shows that despite the large expansion in educational access in these countries in the last half century, women have lacked egalitarian labour market opportunities. A combination of social discouragement and individual choice largely explains the withdrawal, non-participation or intermittent female presence in the labour force, notwithstanding increased educational access. In taking stock of these issues and debates across these countries, it is argued that the parallel experiences of women in these countries can be traced back to persistent gender norms which, amongst other things, imply the centrality of marriage and non-market unpaid labour for women. The paper argues that there is a need for gender-sensitive public policy in order for increased education to translate to labour market gains for women, leading to sustainable development outcomes.


This is the author's version of an article that was subsequently published as Mukherjee, S. (2015). More educated and more equal? A comparative analysis of female education and employment in Japan, China and India. Gender & Education, 27(7), 846-870. DOI: 10.1080/09540253.2015.1103367