Women's Employment: Beyond Individual Characteristics vs. Contextual Factors Explanations
Between the late seventies and the first years of the 21st century, women started to be more and more represented among the employed population in all developed countries. Despite Italy’s Regions underwent notable changes of policies and socioeconomic indicators during the last few decades, some regional specificities are historically consistent: all along the period considered regions in the South exhibit low women’s employment rate coupled with low levels of civic development, weaker macroeconomic conditions and low average educational attainment. In this paper, we exploited these sources of Regional variance in the most relevant socio-economic indicators to estimate the joint impact of individual and macro variables on women’s employment. While among individual and contextual characteristics, education played the major role to enhance women’s participation in the labour market, the cultural evolution and the removal of gender-based discrimination are the sole macroeconomic variables which positively contributed to women’s employment since 1970s, while a move away from the public provision of services exerted a negative impact. Contrarily to what frequently assumed, macroeconomic growth has played an ambiguous but role on women’s employment over time, by worsening the probability of women’s employment in the years 1977 and 1986, reversing this pattern only since the 1990s.
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