What Drives Female Labor Force Participation? Comparable Micro-Level Evidence from Eight Developing and Emerging Economies

73 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019

See all articles by Stephan Klasen

Stephan Klasen

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Janneke Pieters

IZA; Wageningen UR

Manuel Santos Silva

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Le Thi Ngoc Tu

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Abstract

We investigate the micro-level determinants of labor force participation of urban married women in eight low- and middle-income economies: Bolivia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Vietnam. In order to understand what drives changes and differences in participation rates since the early 2000s, we build a unified empirical framework that allows for comparative analyses across time and space. We find that the coefficients of women's characteristics differ substantially across countries, and this explains most of the between-country differences in participation rates. In particular, the relationship between a woman's education and her participation in the labor force varies from being positive and linear (Brazil and South Africa) to being U- or J-shaped (India, Jordan, and Indonesia), or a mixture of both (Bolivia, Vietnam, and Tanzania). Overall, the economic, social, and institutional constraints that shape women's labor force participation remain largely country-specific. Nonetheless, rising education levels and declining fertility consistently increased participation rates, while rising household incomes contributed negatively in relatively poorer countries, suggesting that a substantial share of women work out of economic necessity.

Keywords: female labor force participation, gender, labor markets, development

JEL Classification: J20, J16, I25, O15

Suggested Citation

Klasen, Stephan and Pieters, Janneke and Santos Silva, Manuel and Ngoc Tu, Le Thi, What Drives Female Labor Force Participation? Comparable Micro-Level Evidence from Eight Developing and Emerging Economies. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12067. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3323182

Stephan Klasen (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Platz der Goettinger Sieben 3
Goettingen, 37073
Germany
+49-551-397303 (Phone)
+49-551-397302 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: www.vwl.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/klasen.html

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

Manuel Santos Silva

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Wilhelmsplatz 1
Göttingen, 37073
Germany

Le Thi Ngoc Tu

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

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