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Part-time Work - A Trap for Women`s Careers? An Analysis of the Roles of Heterogeneity and State Dependence


  • Mary Gregory
  • Sara Connolly


Part-time work has been a major area of employment growth for women in the UK over recent decades. Almost half the women in employment now work part-time and two-thirds have worked part-time for some part of their working lives. Part-time employment is welcomed by many women as a means of maintaining labour market participation particularly during the childcare years. However many part-time jobs are low paid and offer little opportunity for career advancement. This leads to conflicting views of the role of part-time work: allowing a full-time career to be maintained or as a dead-end trap for women`s careers. This paper examines this issue using cohort data which follows women`s labour market involvement up to age 42. The pathways followed through full-time employment, part-time employment and non-employment are found to be complex and highly varied. Using several estimation methods (pooled multinomial logits, dynamic random effects binary choice logits and selection-corrected random effects probits) on a 20-year panel we examine the relative roles of heterogeneity in characteristics and state dependence in explaining the choice of labour market state. Our major finding is that a woman`s labour market history reveals itself as the major determinant of subsequent labour market state, dominating the role of characteristics. Part-time work serves two different functions. Women whose past history involves full-time work even in conjunction with spells of part-time work or non-employment, revert to full-time work. Women whose labour market history combines spells in part-time work with non-employment are unlikely subsequently to take up full-time work.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary Gregory & Sara Connolly, 2005. "Part-time Work - A Trap for Women`s Careers? An Analysis of the Roles of Heterogeneity and State Dependence," Economics Series Working Papers 245, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:245

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Florence Jaumotte, 2003. "Female Labour Force Participation: Past Trends and Main Determinants in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 376, OECD Publishing.
    2. Dean R. Hyslop, 1999. "State Dependence, Serial Correlation and Heterogeneity in Intertemporal Labor Force Participation of Married Women," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1255-1294, November.
    3. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1995. "Selection corrections for panel data models under conditional mean independence assumptions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 115-132, July.
    4. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics,in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
    5. Hakim, Catherine, 1998. "Social Change and Innovation in the Labour Market: Evidence from the Census SARs on Occupational Segregation and Labour Mobility, Part-Time Work and Students' Jobs, Homework and Self-Employment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293811.
    6. Jacqueline O'Reilly & Silke Bothfeld, 2002. "What happens after working part time? Integration, maintenance or exclusionary transitions in Britain and western Germany," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 409-439, July.
    7. Narendranathan, Wiji & Elias, Peter, 1993. "Influences of Past History on the Incidence of Youth Unemployment: Empirical Findings for the UK," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(2), pages 161-185, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan R. Cuadrado Roura & Carlos Iglesias Fernández & Raquel Llorente Heras, 2007. "Regional differences in women´s part time employment. An analysis of supply and demand," Working Papers 03/07, Instituto Universitario de Análisis Económico y Social.
    2. Helena Corrales Herrero & Beatriz Rodríguez Prado, 2011. "El empleo a tiempo parcial entre los jóvenes: Puente o trampa," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 6,in: Antonio Caparrós Ruiz (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 6, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 42, pages 677-692 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    3. repec:cep:sticas:/135 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Female Employment; Part-time Work; Persistence; Life-cycle; Dynamic Panel; Discrete Choice;

    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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