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A Decomposition of the Labour Market Participation of Married Women in Three Countries: Australia, Canada and the United States of America


  • Vera Brusentsev


This study examines cross-national variation in the labour force participation of married women in Australia, Canada and the United States of America (USA), three countries of similar socio-economic development, in order to assess the observed differences in their labour market behaviour. While cross-national variation in labour force participation may be explained by a number of factors, a decomposition of the variation in cross-national labour market participation rates is explored in this study. Initially, a basic model of female labour force participation is presented using data from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS). The results of the basic model show that the probability of married women participation in the labour market in all three countries is inversely associated with the number of children under the age of 18 years, while higher eductaion and age at younger ages are associated with a higher probability. Two applications of the estimates are presented in the study: a simulation and a decomposition of the variation in cross-national labour force participation. The simulation exercise indicates that variation in cross-national labour force participation rates for married women can be explained by both country-specific characteristics and the measured differences in the responses to those characteristics. The decomposition of the differential in labour force participation into the effect of country-specific characteristics and the effect of responses shows that if the responses of married women in Canada are imposed on the characteristics of Australian women, then participation is higher. On the other hand, if the characteristics for either Canada or the USA are applied to the behavioural responses in Australia, then the labour market partiicipation of married women is also higher. This confirms that differences in country-specific characteristics and responses both contribute to explaining cross-national variation.

Suggested Citation

  • Vera Brusentsev, 2000. "A Decomposition of the Labour Market Participation of Married Women in Three Countries: Australia, Canada and the United States of America," Working Paper Series 106, Finance Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney.
  • Handle: RePEc:uts:wpaper:106

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Willis, Robert J, 1987. "What Have We Learned from the Economics of the Family?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 68-81, May.
    2. Leibowitz, A. & Klerman, J.A., 1995. "Explaining Changes in Married Mothers'Employment Over Time," Papers 95-13, RAND - Reprint Series.
    3. Denise J. Doiron & W. Craig Riddell, 1994. "The Impact of Unionization on Male-Female Earnings Differences in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 504-534.
    4. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-1475, September.
    5. Francine D. Blau, 1998. "Trends in the Well-Being of American Women, 1970-1995," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 112-165, March.
    6. Mason, Karen Oppenheim & Jensen, An-Magritt (ed.), 1995. "Gender and Family Change in Industrialized Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289708, June.
    7. Gordon Cleveland & Morley Gunderson & Douglas Hyatt, 1996. "Child Care Costs and the Employment Decision of Women: Canadian Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 132-151, February.
    8. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
    9. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    10. Deaton, Angus & Meullbauer, John, 1981. "Functional Forms for Labor Supply and Commodity Demands with and without Quantity Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1521-1532, November.
    11. Connelly, Rachel, 1992. "The Effect of Child Care Costs on Married Women's Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 83-90, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ingco, Katrina Nicole & Pilitro, Ver Lyon Yojie, 2016. "Stuck at a Crossroad: A Microeconometric Analysis of Fertility and Married Female Labor Force Supply in the Philippines," MPRA Paper 73351, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Gamar, Alae & Driouchi, Ahmed, 2014. "Higher Education and Inclusion of Women in Labor Markets and in Business Development in Morocco," MPRA Paper 58072, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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