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Understanding the Determinants of Female Labor Force Participation in the Middle East and North Africa Region: The Role of Education and Social Norms in Amman

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  • Nadereh Chamlou

    ()
    (The World Bank)

  • Silvia Muzi

    ()
    (The World Bank)

  • Hanane Ahmed

    ()
    (The World Bank)

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    Abstract

    The similarities between the labor market supply of women with a Middle Eastern background living in Europe and those of women living in the Middle East is of particular interest. Indeed, empirical evidence shows that Female Labor Force Participation (FLFP) of immigrants reflects to a large extent the FLFP of country of origin, with women from more conservative societies tending to participate less in the labor market than natives or immigrants from countries with a high FLFP. This impacts the host country’s FLFP at an aggregate level. Therefore, from a European perspective, understanding the determinants of female labor supply in the conservative societies, such as countries from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is of particular interest, considering the high share of this group among immigrants. Hence, this empirical research focuses on the role of education, especially higher education, and social norms in MENA on the choice of women to work outside. The region has achieved substantial progress in educating women, increasingly so at the tertiary level and across disciplines, but its FLFP remains the lowest among all regions. Our paper empirically investigates the impact of education with emphasis on higher education on FLFP and the relationship between social norms and female labor supply in a representative city in MENA, namely Amman, Jordan, as a proxy for MENA. Our analysis shows that higher education (post-secondary/university/post-university) has a positive and significant impact on FLFP, whereas secondary and below do not. In addition, there is a strong negative and statistically significant association between traditional social norms and the participation of women in the labor force. The findings pose the question of whether additional policies and actions are needed to change institutions and attitudes toward women’s work in general, as well as improve the economic opportunities of women who have secondary education which affects the bulk of working age women.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium in its series Working Papers with number 31.

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    Length: 21
    Date of creation: Sep 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:laa:wpaper:31

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    Web page: http://www.almalaurea.it

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    1. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Iyigun, Murat & Weiss, Yoram, 2006. "Investment in Schooling and the Marriage Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    4. Cameron, Lisa A & Dowling, J Malcolm & Worswick, Christopher, 2001. "Education and Labor Market Participation of Women in Asia: Evidence from Five Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(3), pages 461-77, April.
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    7. Mayra Buviníc & Andrew R. Morrison & A. Waafas Ofosu-Amaah & Mirja Sjöblom, 2008. "Equality for Women : Where Do We Stand on Millennium Development Goal 3?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6550, October.
    8. Lee, Bun Song & Jang, Soomyung & Sarkar, Jayanta, 2008. "Women's labor force participation and marriage: The case of Korea," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 138-154, April.
    9. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
    10. Francis Vella & Lídia Farré, 2007. "The Intergenerational Transmission Of Gender Role Attitudes And Its Implications For Female Labor Force Participation," Working Papers. Serie AD 2007-23, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    11. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2000. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 7831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Florence Jaumotte, 2003. "Female Labour Force Participation: Past Trends and Main Determinants in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 376, OECD Publishing.
    13. Monazza Aslam, 2009. "Education Gender Gaps in Pakistan: Is the Labor Market to Blame?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(4), pages 747-784, 07.
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