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The Economic Crisis of 2008 and the Added Worker Effect in Transition Countries

  • Tamar Khitarishvili

Following the financial crisis of 2008, transition countries experienced an increase in female labor force participation rates and a decrease in male labor force participation rates, in part because male-dominated sectors were hit the hardest. These developments have prompted many to argue that women have been spared the full-blown effects of the crisis. In this paper, we critically evaluate this claim by investigating the extent to which the increase in the female labor force participation rate may have reflected a distress labor supply response to the crisis. We use the data on the 28 countries of the transition region assessed in the 2010 Life in Transition Survey. We find the presence of the female added worker effect, driven by married 45- to 54-year-old women with no children in the household. This effect is the strongest among the region's middle-income countries. Among men, a negative relationship between labor force participation and household-specific income shocks is indicated. Unlike the differences in the response to household-specific income shocks, the labor supply response to a weaker macroeconomic environment is negative for both men and women—hinting at the presence of the "discouraged worker" effect, which cuts across gender lines. We conclude that the decrease in men's labor force participation observed during this crisis is likely a combined result of the initial sectoral contraction and the subsequent impact of the discouraged worker effect. For women, on the other hand, the added worker effect appears to outweigh the discouraged worker effect, contributing to an increase in their labor force participation rate. Our findings highlight the presence of heterogeneity in the way in which household-specific shocks, as opposed to economy-wide conditions, affect both female and male labor force participation rates.

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Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_765.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_765
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  1. Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Sinha, Nistha & Buvinic, Mayra, 2010. "How do women weather economic shocks ? a review of the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5496, The World Bank.
  2. Melvin Stephens, 2002. "Worker Displacement and the Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 504-537, July.
  3. Susan Parker & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2004. "The added worker effect over the business cycle: evidence from urban Mexico," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(10), pages 625-630.
  4. Spletzer, James R, 1997. "Reexamining the Added Worker Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 417-27, April.
  5. Cem Baslevent & Ozlem Onaran, 2003. "Are Married Women in Turkey More Likely to Become Added or Discouraged Workers?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 17(3), pages 439-458, 09.
  6. Cho, Yoonyoung & Newhouse, David, 2011. "How did the great recession affect different types of workers ? evidence from 17 middle-income countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5636, The World Bank.
  7. Lokshin, Michael M. & Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2001. "Household strategies for coping with poverty and social exclusion in post-crisis Russia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2556, The World Bank.
  8. Mark A. Aguiar & Erik Hurst & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Time Use During Recessions," NBER Working Papers 17259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Prieto-Rodriguez, Juan & Rodriguez-Gutierrez, Cesar, 2003. "Participation of married women in the European labor markets and the "added worker effect"," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 429-446, September.
  10. Rania Antonopoulos, 2009. "The Current Economic and Financial Crisis: A Gender Perspective," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_562, Levy Economics Institute.
  11. Congregado, Emilio & Golpe, Antonio A. & van Stel, André, 2011. "Exploring the big jump in the Spanish unemployment rate: Evidence on an 'added-worker' effect," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 1099-1105, May.
  12. Milan Vodopivec & Andreas W�rg�tter & Dhushyanth Raju, 2005. "Unemployment Benefit Systems in Central and Eastern Europe: A Review of the 1990s1," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(4), pages 615-651, December.
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