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Labour Market Outcomes in Bangladesh: The Role of Poverty and Gender Norms


  • Sarah Bridges

    (University of Nottingham, Nottingham)

  • David Lawson

    (University of Manchester, Manchester)

  • Sharifa Begum

    (Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), Dhaka)


It is frequently argued that female participation in the labour market is important for economic growth and poverty reduction. Despite this, the role that extreme poverty and gender norms play in influencing such participation is far from fully understood. This article uses nationally representative household data to address this issue using data for Bangladesh. In line with prior – largely qualitative – work, we find that extreme poverty is indeed important in explaining some of the growth in female employment in Bangladesh; we find evidence of a positive relationship between extreme poverty and participation, especially for women. In addition, we find that among young single women there appears to be a growing acceptance of their employment in the labour market. Despite this, rigid social and cultural norms are still apparent among other groups of women, especially in the rural areas.On affirme souvent que la participation des femmes au marché du travail joue un rôle important pour la croissance économique et la réduction de la pauvreté. Pourtant, l′influence de la pauvreté extrême et des normes de genre sur cette participation est loin d′être parfaitement comprise. Cet article tente d′apporter des éléments de réponse à cette question en s′appuyant sur des données représentatives sur les ménages du Bangladesh. Tout comme les travaux, essentiellement qualitatifs, effectués précédemment, nous constatons que la pauvreté extrême est un facteur important expliquant une partie de la croissance de l′emploi des femmes au Bangladesh; Nous démontrons que l′extrême pauvreté est positivement corrélée avec cette participation, particulièrement pour les femmes. En outre, nous constatons que les jeunes femmes célibataires semblent de plus en plus nombreuses à accepter leur propre participation au marché du travail. Cependant, des normes sociales et culturelles rigides continuent de régir les autres catégories de femmes, notamment en milieu rural.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Bridges & David Lawson & Sharifa Begum, 2011. "Labour Market Outcomes in Bangladesh: The Role of Poverty and Gender Norms," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 23(3), pages 459-487, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:23:y:2011:i:3:p:459-487

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    Cited by:

    1. Rahman, Rushidan I. & Islam, Rizwanul., 2013. "Female labour force participation in Bangladesh : trends, drivers and barriers," ILO Working Papers 994834893402676, International Labour Organization.
    2. Asadullah, Niaz & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2016. "Missing from the Market: Purdah Norm and Women's Paid Work Participation in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 10463, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:ilo:ilowps:483489 is not listed on IDEAS

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