Trade Reforms, Capital Investments and the Feminization of Colombian Manufacturing Industries: 1981-2000


  • Jairo G Isaza Castro Christian Brothers University
  • Barry Reilly University of Sussex


We exploit a natural experiment provided by the trade liberalization that occurred in Colombia at the beginning of the 1990s to see its possible effects on the gender composition of the workforce across manufacturing industries. To control for the effects of changes in capital technology, our econometric panel data strategy controls for three different types of capital stock per worker (namely, machinery, office equipment and transport equipment) and compares estimates drawn from a variety of instruments. We also control for changes in market competition within different manufacturing industries with the implementation of a concentration index variable in order to measure the degree of market power. Our findings point out that the Colombian manufacturing industries that became more exposed to trade flows increased their share of female employment in a more pronounced way with respect to those that remained less exposed. This effect, however, appears to be stronger in the case of highly skilled workers. As predicted by microeconomic theory, we observe lower female shares of jobs in manufacturing industries with higher levels of industry concentration. Our results are also consistent with the literature that predicts an increasing feminization of employment as a result of a the massification of emerging computer technologies since the end of the 1980s.


female intensity, trade liberalization, panel data, Colombia

Author Biographies

Jairo G Isaza Castro, Christian Brothers University

Associate Professor of Economics, School of Business, Christian Brothers University. Director, Center for Global Workplace Equity and Inclusion, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN, United States. Contact:

Barry Reilly, University of Sussex

Professor of Economics & Econometrics, University of Sussex Business School, Brighton, United Kingdom. Contact:


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