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Toothless Reforms? The Remarkable Stability of Female Labor Force Participation in a Top-Reforming Country


  • Pignatti, Norberto

    () (ISET, Tbilisi State University)

  • Torosyan, Karine

    () (ISET, Tbilisi State University)

  • Chitanava, Maka

    () (ISET, Tbilisi State University)


Low Female Labor Force Participation (FLFP) constitutes a foregone opportunity at both the macro and at the micro levels, potentially increasing the vulnerability of households and lowering the long-run development perspectives of a country. Most international organizations and national policy makers see low FLFP as a serious issue that needs to be addressed by adopting appropriate policies. We investigate the possible reasons of the remarkable stability of FLFP in a top-reforming upper-middle income country. Our goal is to in disentangle the different forces at work and to draw useful lessons for the design of participation-enhancing policies. Using data from a nationally representative Household Survey covering the period 2003-2015, we employ Blinder-Oaxaca (Blinder, 1973 and Oaxaca, 1973) type decomposition to decompose changes over time in FLFP levels into parts that are due to changes in observable factors versus changes in the strength of impact of these factors. This allows us to identify possible shifters of the FLFP rate and propose areas of special interest for policy making. We show that the stability of FLFP in Georgia during the period 2003-2013 is due to offsetting socio-economic changes taking place in the country, and that the increase in the last period covered by our dataset – 2013-2015 – can be attributed to the emergence of new labor opportunities for women. We conclude that, while useful, supply-side economic reforms are not sufficient to increase FLFP and need to be complemented by demand-side policies aiming at creating more and better work opportunities for women.

Suggested Citation

  • Pignatti, Norberto & Torosyan, Karine & Chitanava, Maka, 2016. "Toothless Reforms? The Remarkable Stability of Female Labor Force Participation in a Top-Reforming Country," IZA Discussion Papers 10440, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10440

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli, 2006. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 552-561, 04-05.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Joost de Laat & Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2011. "The Fertility and Women's Labor Force Participation puzzle in OECD Countries: The Role of Men's Home Production," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 87-119.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:30752834 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    7. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
    8. Karine Torosyan & Theodore P. Gerber & Pilar Goñalons-Pons, 2016. "Migration, Household Tasks, and Gender: Evidence from the Republic of Georgia," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 445-474, June.
    9. Norberto Pignatti, 2016. "Encouraging women’s labor force participation in transition countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 264-264, June.
    10. Antecol, Heather, 2000. "An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 409-426, July.
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    More about this item


    employment; female labor force participation; labor market; public policy; reforms;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • P11 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
    • P21 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
    • P23 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population

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