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Women's Work and Economic Development


  • Kristin Mammen
  • Christina Paxson


Using a cross-country dataset and microdata from India and Thailand, we examine how women's work status changes with economic development. Several clear patterns emerge: women's labor force participation first declines and then rises with development; women move from work in family enterprises to work as paid employees; fertility declines; and gender gaps in education narrow. Women's education levels, and those of their spouses, appear to be important determinants of women's labor market activities. Broad welfare indicators, such as mortality rates and education levels, indicate that women's well-being improves on average with development, both in absolute terms and relative to men.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristin Mammen & Christina Paxson, 2000. "Women's Work and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 141-164, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:14:y:2000:i:4:p:141-164 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.4.141

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
    2. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Schultz, T. Paul, 1988. "Education investments and returns," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 543-630 Elsevier.
    5. Jere R. Behrman & Anil B. Deolalikar, 1990. "The Intrahousehold Demand for Nutrients in Rural South India: Individual Estimates, Fixed Effects, and Permanent Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 665-696.
    6. Behrman, Jere R, 1988. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Nutrients in Rural India: Are Boys Favored? Do Parents Exhibit Inequality Aversion?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(1), pages 32-54, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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