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Why so Few Women in the Labor Market in Turkey?


  • İpek İlkkaracan


Turkey has one of the widest male--female employment gaps in the world. The post-1950 interplay between economic growth strategies and the male-breadwinner family led to distinct gendered labor market outcomes in the import-substitution versus the export-led growth periods. Examination of aggregate employment data in the 1955--2009 period, as well as regression analyses of household survey data for 1988, 2000, and 2008 and qualitative data from a 1997 field study, show that the lack of a demand-side challenge to the male-breadwinner family resulted in the institutionalization of the gendered labor division and roles as binding constraints on women' labor supply. The prevalence of informal sector employment and absence of paid work--family reconciliation measures magnify these supply-side constraints. Social conservatism is a more limited constraint, while men' unemployment emerges as a counteracting factor. Nevertheless, women' desire for increased autonomy emerges as the primary motivation for entering the labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • İpek İlkkaracan, 2012. "Why so Few Women in the Labor Market in Turkey?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 1-37, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:18:y:2012:i:1:p:1-37
    DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2011.649358

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. World Bank, 2004. "Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa : Women in the Public Sphere," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15036, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. KIZILCA, F. Kemal, 2013. "Booze and women: Gendering labor market outcomes of secular consumption patterns in a Muslim society," MPRA Paper 51832, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Ayça Akarçay Gürbüz & Sezgin Polat & Mustafa Ulus, 2014. "In Limbo: Exploring Transition to Discouragement," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 26(4), pages 527-551, September.
    3. Deger Eryar & Hasan Tekguc, 2012. "Gender Role Attitude and Female Labor Force Participation: A case study of İzmir," Working Papers 2012-04, Mardin Artuklu Univeristy, Department of Economics.

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