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Female labour force participation in the United Kingdom: evolving characteristics or changing behaviour?

  • Maria Guti'rrez-DomSnech
  • Brian Bell

The working-age female participation rate in the United Kingdom increased by 7 percentage points between 1984 and 2002. The purpose of this paper is to quantify how much of the rise reflects changes in the socio-demographic structure of the female population and how much can be attributed to changes in behaviour or other uncontrolled factors. The paper uses a time series of cross-sections from the Labour Force Survey, and applies a method of growth accounting. The results show that, between 1984 and 2002, changes in the structure of the female population contributed to two thirds of the growth in female participation, whereas one third is explained by changes in behaviour or other factors.

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Paper provided by Bank of England in its series Bank of England working papers with number 221.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:221
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  1. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Ham, John & Meghir, Costas, 1987. "Unemployment and Female Labour Supply," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(388a), pages 44-64, Supplemen.
  3. Blundell, Richard & Ham, John & Meghir, Costas, 1998. "Unemployment, discouraged workers and female labour supply," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 103-131, June.
  4. Brian Bell & James Smith, 2004. "Health, disability insurance and labour force participation," Bank of England working papers 218, Bank of England.
  5. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & John Van Reenen, 2001. "Evaluating the employment impact of a mandatory job search assistance program," IFS Working Papers W01/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Joshi, Heather E & Layard, Richard & Owen, Susan J, 1985. "Why Are More Women Working in Britain?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S147-76, January.
  7. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1998. "Estimating Labor Supply Responses Using Tax Reforms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 827-862, July.
  8. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  9. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
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