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Moving Down: Women’s Part-time Work and Occupational Change in Britain 1991–2001

Author

Listed:
  • Connolly, Sara

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Gregory, Mary

    (University of Oxford)

Abstract

The UK’s Equal Opportunities Commission has recently drawn attention to the ‘hidden brain drain’ when women working part-time are employed in occupations below those for which they are qualified. These inferences were based on self-reporting. We give an objective and quantitative analysis of the nature of occupational change as women make the transition between full-time and part-time work. We construct an occupational classification which supports a ranking of occupations based on the average level of qualification of those employed there on a full-time basis. Using the NESPD and the BHPS for the period 1991-2001 we show that perhaps one-quarter of women moving from full- to part-time work move to an occupation at a lower level of qualification. Over 20 percent of professional women downgrade, half of them moving to low-skill jobs; two-thirds of nurses leaving nursing become care assistants; women from managerial positions are particularly badly affected. Women remaining with their current employer are much less vulnerable to downgrading, and the availability of part-time opportunities within the occupation is far more important than the presence of a pre-school child in determining whether a woman moves to a lower-level occupation. These findings indicate a loss of economic efficiency through the underutilisation of the skills of many of the women who work part-time.

Suggested Citation

  • Connolly, Sara & Gregory, Mary, 2007. "Moving Down: Women’s Part-time Work and Occupational Change in Britain 1991–2001," IZA Discussion Papers 3106, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3106
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    female employment; part-time work; occupation; life-cycle; downgrade; over-qualification;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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