This article seeks to clarify the effect of growth on gender equality for the case of Pakistan, a country that has seen periods of high growth alongside the persistence of stark gender inequalities. The paper addresses this aim by estimating gendered sectoral employment elasticities of growth for the period 1984–2017 and investigates their drivers. It finds that the secular trend toward productivity-driven growth since the turn of the millennium has lowered the responsiveness of men’s employment to growth impulses in particular. For women, factors related to Pakistan’s gender order are more relevant. Greater gender parity in education enables women to benefit from growth in the form of better employment access. The reverse is the case for improvements in relative women’s life expectancy, understood as indicative of their social status. The paper interprets the related effect as a reduction in the precarity of women’s employment associated with improved status. HIGHLIGHTS Employment dividends of growth are realized in a highly gender-differentiated way. Pakistan’s gender order mediates women’s volatile employment responses to growth. We use excess women’s mortality as an indicator for Pakistan’s gender order. Women workers bear the brunt of recessions through the loss and precarity of jobs. Education is especially relevant in reducing women’s employment precarity.
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