The Gender Dimensions of Social Networks, Unemployment and Underemployment: What Time Use Data Reveal
Utilizing time use data for exploring the issue of employment (or lack thereof) – a critical pathway for increased incomes for the poor - has received little attention in economic analysis. Using data from the 2000 South African national time use survey, this paper examines the value of time use data in policy discussions related to understanding people’s employment status and job search. In particular, we argue that an understanding of how individuals organize their daily life can help identify productive work and workers in a more comprehensive way than conventional labor force surveys and can provide an useful assessment of the effects of employment conditions on coping strategies like job search. We assess whether labor force surveys provide a good estimation of participation in productive activities by exploring the time use patterns of 10, 465 women and men aged 16-64 years, particularly the unemployed, underemployed and employed respondents. The results show that 26.7 and 17.5 percent of unemployed men and women respectively actually engaged in SNA productive activities, spending more time than underemployed men and women. We also examine individuals’ responses to jobless growth that affect their labor force participation and time use. Building and developing social networks serves as an important coping strategy not only for enhancing social insurance but also for improving job prospects. Using an instrumental variable tobit model, we examine whether or not an unemployed person is likely to spend more time in social networking compared to other respondents. The findings, which are found to be robust, confirm the hypothesis. The results also show significant gender differences, with women spending less time in social networking than men. Women carry the burden of housework, which limits their time in developing social networks and in improving their employment prospects.
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