Fang Lee Cooke
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The two-child policy in China
A blessing or a curse for the employment of female university graduates?
in Making work more equal

While a significant level of gender equality in employment in China has been achieved during the state-planned economy period, measured by the extent of women’s participation in full-time employment and the relatively small gender pay gap, gender discrimination has increased substantially as a result of the deepening marketisation of the economy since the 1980s in China. In particular, labour market discrimination against women of childbearing age, especially against female university graduates, is a salient feature. This chapter examines tensions in the university graduate labour market that have been intensified by different goals of the social and economic policies adopted by the Chinese government since the 1980s. Existing evidence suggests that Two-Child policy exacerbates the labour market discrimination for female graduates and in part undermines the enthusiasm of married couples to have a second child. The chapter argues that if the intention of the Two-Child policy is to overcome labour shortage and social security pressure associated with an ageing population, then the increased labour cost and its consequent employment discrimination related to having a second child are severely undermining its implementation and triggering another set of social problems that may be difficult to tackle in the short term.

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Making work more equal

A new labour market segmentation approach


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