Malaysia’s growth momentum to continue in 2013; Unlocking women’s potential needed for Malaysia’s transformation into a High Income Country

November 29, 2012


Malaysia has the opportunity to accelerate its transformation into a high income economy if more women were in the labor force. View slideshow.

KUALA LUMPUR, NOVEMBER 29, 2012--- A new World Bank report says that Malaysia is expected to register real GDP growth of 5.1 percent in 2012 and 5.0 percent in 2013. Propelled by domestic demand the economy is likely to weather a weak global environment and grow robustly in the next year.

The Malaysia Economic Monitor, launched today, notes that strengthening structural reforms is key to ensure the positive growth momentum carries into the medium-term. As investments have been lifted by sectors linked to commodities, it will be important to increase productivity in other parts of the economy, especially services, which generate the bulk of jobs. To achieve long-term productivity improvements, Malaysia will need to accelerate implementation of reforms, as outlined in the Government’s New Economic Model, to boost competition and capabilities in the economy.

The report also stresses the importance of promoting the role of women in the labor market. The number of working age women who are employed or looking for employment is lower in Malaysia compared to other countries with similar income levels. Gender segmentation in education and labor markets in Malaysia could potentially lead to economic costs. Malaysian women are under-represented in certain fields of study such as engineering. .

Malaysia has the opportunity to accelerate its transformation into a high income economy if more women were in the labor force,” says Annette Dixon, World Bank Country Director for Malaysia. She added: “Closing gender gaps and encouraging women to bring their skills to the labor market could leapfrog Malaysia to high income status.”

A recent study shows that Malaysia could experience a 23 percent increase in output per capita as a result of eliminating gender bias in the labor markets. The increase could be realized if more women joined the labor market or became entrepreneurs, which increases the pool of managerial talent in the economy.

Malaysia has already narrowed or eliminated most gender gaps in education--- more women than men are enrolled in secondary and tertiary education. Malaysia’s major challenge now is to increase the opportunities for women to bring their talents to labor markets,” said Frederico Gil Sander, World Bank Senior Economist for Malaysia.

Measures can be put in place to encourage more women to participate in the workforce. These range from flexi-work arrangements and expanded childcare options to incentives for the entrance of women into non-traditional fields of study. The Government has put in place a number of helpful policy initiatives to leverage women’s talent, but additional policy options can also be explored, evaluated, and tailored to enable Malaysian women to fully contribute to the country’s efforts towards becoming a high income, inclusive, and sustainable economy.

The Malaysia Economic Monitor series provides an analytical perspective on the policy challenges facing Malaysia as it grows into a high-income economy. The series also represents an effort to reach out to a broad audience, including policymakers, private sector leaders, market participants, civil society and academia.

The report can be accessed at

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