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Economic development, structural change, and women’s labor force participation:

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  • Isis Gaddis

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  • Stephan Klasen

    ()

Abstract

A sizable literature claims that female labor force participation (FLFP) follows a U-shaped trend as countries develop due to structural change, education, and fertility dynamics. We show that empirical support for this secular trend is feeble and depends on the data sources used, especially GDP estimates. The U also vanishes under dynamic panel estimations. Moreover, cross-country differences in levels of FLFP related to historical contingencies are more important than the muted U patterns found in some specifications. Given the large error margins in international GDP estimates and the sensitivity of the U relationship, we propose a more direct approach to explore the effect of structural change on FLFP using sector-specific growth rates. The results suggest that structural change affects FLFP consistent with a U pattern, but the effects are small. We conclude that the feminization U hypothesis as an overarching secular trend driving FLFP in the development process has little empirical support. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Isis Gaddis & Stephan Klasen, 2014. "Economic development, structural change, and women’s labor force participation:," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(3), pages 639-681, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:27:y:2014:i:3:p:639-681
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-013-0488-2
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    Keywords

    Female labor force participation; Economic development; Structural change; Panel; GMM; J16; J21; O15;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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