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Female Labour Force Participation in Arab Countries: The Role of Identity

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  • Tobias Caris

    (Philipps-University Marburg)

  • Bernd Hayo

    ()
    (Philipps-University Marburg)

Abstract

We investigate why female labour market participation is low in the Arab region. Utilising Akerlof and Kranton’s (2000) ‘identity economics’ approach, we show in a simple gametheoretic framework that women socialised in a traditional family environment violate their identities by taking a job. In the empirical analysis, we study the respective impact of two determinants of identity in the Arab region, Islam and cultural tradition. Employing two waves of the World Values Survey, we find significant evidence that identity affects female labour market participation. Moreover, our estimates suggest that in the Arab region, Muslim women do not participate in the labour market less than non-Muslim women, whereas those with strong traditional identities have a 7 percentage point lower probability of entering the labour market.

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Paper provided by Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung) in its series MAGKS Papers on Economics with number 201241.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in
Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201241

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Keywords: Female labour market participation; Arab region; Islam; Identity; Religion;

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  1. Guido Heineck, 2002. "Does Religion Influence the Labour Supply of Married Women in Germany?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 278, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1985. "Cultural Differences in Labor Force Participation among Married Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 251-55, May.
  3. Antecol, Heather, 2000. "An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 409-426, July.
  4. Psacharopoulos, George & Tzannatos, Zafiris, 1989. "Female Labor Force Participation: An International Perspective," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 4(2), pages 187-201, July.
  5. Hendry, David F., 2000. "Econometrics: Alchemy or Science?: Essays in Econometric Methodology," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293545, September.
  6. Timur Kuran, 1997. "Islam and Underdevelopment: An Old Puzzle Revisited," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 41-, March.
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