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Determinants of South African Women’s Labour Force Participation, 1995–2004

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  • Benhura, Miracle

    ()
    (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

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    Abstract

    A striking feature of labour supply in South Africa is the phenomenal expansion in the labour force participation of women from 38 percent in 1995 to 46 percent in 2004. Even so, their participation has been persistently lower than that of men whose participation rates were 58 percent and 62 percent respectively. Furthermore, analyses of women’s participation rates by race show that the rates for historically disadvantaged groups such as Africans are still lower than those of Whites. For instance, in 1995 African women had a participation rate of 34 percent and it increased to 43 percent in 2004 while the corresponding rates for White women were 52 percent and 59 percent. In light of these disparities, this paper uses survey data to examine the determinants of the low level and also of the changes in African women’s labour force participation, during the first decade of democracy (1995-2004). By focussing on a ten year period, this research substantially differs from earlier studies which were preoccupied with short periods such as one year. A longer period is analytically advantageous because it allows the capturing of the changes and the robustness of the key determinants of female labour force participation in South Africa. Such information is important not only for reviewing existing policies but also for the formulation of new ones to increase female labour force participation which is a prerequisite for economic development. The study utilises a decomposition technique devised by Even and Macpherson (1990). The findings exhibit that female participation responded positively to education which has been the prime factor. Non-labour income, marriage, fertility and geographical variations in economic development persistently stifled participation. It is argued that the perceived change in participation is due to emigration and changes in human capital and financial endowments. Another important discovery is that -9 percent of the observed shifts in the participation rates from 1995-2004 is due to disparities in characteristics while differences in coefficients account for 109 percent of the shifts.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3119.

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    Length: 37 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3119

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    Keywords: feminisation; labour force; decomposition analysis;

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    References

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    1. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Thomas MaCurdy & David Green & Harry Paarsch, 1990. "Assessing Empirical Approaches for Analyzing Taxes and Labor Supply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(3), pages 415-490.
    3. Myeong-Su Yun, 2000. "Decomposition Analysis for a Binary Choice Model," Departmental Working Papers 200001, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    4. Ronald L. Oaxaca & Michael R. Ransom, 1999. "Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 154-157, February.
    5. William E. Even & David A. Macpherson, 1993. "The Decline of Private-Sector Unionism and the Gender Wage Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(2), pages 279-296.
    6. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S76-S108, Part II, .
    7. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra, 1984. "A Theory of Allocation of Time in Markets for Labour and Marriage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 863-82, December.
    8. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Incomes in South Africa Since the Fall of Apartheid," NBER Working Papers 11384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polacheck, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 397-431 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2000. "Are Searching and Non-searching Unemployment Distinct States when Unemployment is High? The Case of South Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-02, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    11. Maglad, N.A., 1998. "Female Labour Supply in Sudan," Papers 30s, African Economic Research Consortium.
    12. Even, William E. & Macpherson, David A., 1990. "Plant size and the decline of unionism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 393-398, April.
    13. Cecil Mlatsheni & Murray Leibbrandt, 2001. "The role of education and fertility in the participation and employment of African women in South Africa," Working Papers 01054, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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