The economic impact of gender inequality: Equality would add $12tn to the world's economy

Clara Guibourg
Follow Clara
"Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue" (Source: Getty)

Want to boost the global economy by, say, $12tn? Turns out there’s one simple thing that could make that happen: equality between the sexes.

Gender inequality is costing us, according to a new report from McKinsey, attempting to calculate how much bigger the economic output would be ten years from now if women participated more equally in the labour market.

The report suggests that the global economy is currently missing out on trillions of dollars, as women, who currently account for only 37 per cent of total global economic output, could add a quarter to today's global production figures, by participating equally with men:

Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge.

If women — who account for half the world’s working-age population — do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer.

If every country in the world raised its performance to the best practice in its region, it would add some $12tn to global annual GDP by 2025.

Read more: The UK's gender pay gap isn't a moral issue - it's a business one

This figure is close to the gross domestic product of the United States.

Eye-watering though it may be, it still doesn’t come close to what we stand to gain on full equality, according to McKinsey, which suggests this would add an extra $28tn in global growth:

We believe that the world, including the private sector, would benefit by focusing on the large economic opportunity of improving parity between men and women.

The think tank has ranked countries and regions by gender parity, and found a strong link between gender equality in society and attitudes, and gender equality in the workplace:

The latter is not achievable without the former two elements. We found virtually no countries with high gender equality in society but low gender equality in work.

In the UK, figures published today from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggest that the gender pay gap isn't as big as previously believed.

Related articles