More women in the workforce could create trillions in global GDP

She told you so.
She told you so.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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As a presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton has put gender equality at the core of her campaign. And one of the reasons is that it makes economic sense. The US economy, she says, would grow significantly if as many women as men were involved in the workforce, and with equal pay.

According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, is not only true of the US but also of the entire world. If women’s involvement in the workplace improved, McKinsey senior fellow Anu Madgavkar, one of the authors of the study, told Quartz, the world’s economy could grow of as much as $12 trillion by 2025.

“We’re not even talking about reaching full potential [in terms of equality],” Madgavkar told Quartz, “but matching the current best practices.”

For the world to generate trillions of dollars more, it’s enough for each country to match labor equality with the country that’s improved the most in its region over the past 10 years. In Western Europe, for instance, the fastest improving country has been Spain, which has closed the gap in labor participation 1.5% every year. In Latin America it would be Chile (1.9% improvement annually); in Southeast Asia the model would be Singapore (1.1% annually). Using a country that has achieved progress already makes it a feasible model to replicate.

Madgavkar explained that labor equality was evaluated according to three elements:

  1. Participation in paid work, considering most of unpaid care work around the world is performed by women.
  2. Hours of paid work, since far more women than men are part-time workers.
  3. Sector of involvement, as women tend to be more involved in lower wage professions.

Equality in the workplace, however, cannot be reached without significant social change.

The research, Madgavkar told Quartz, has shown that “there is virtually no country in the world that has achieved labor equality without social equality.”

A country’s economic development is directly dependent on the conditions of its women. According to McKinsey’s findings, physical security, access to basic services (education, health, financial and digital inclusion), and legal protection are just as central to overall economic development as labor equality.