The impact of resources and family-level cultural practices on immigrant women’s workforce participation
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- Evans, M.D.R. & Lukic, T. Gend. Issues (1998) 16: 52. doi:10.1007/s12147-998-0010-4
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This article aims to assess the extent to which women's labor force participation reflects culturally or situationally induced family strategies above and beyond the well-known effects of opportunities and constraints associated with education and the life cycle. We focus particularly on women immigrants from the former Yugoslavia in Australia, and explore the family strategies by comparing the Yugoslav women systematically to immigrant women from other parts of the Mediterranean world and to immigrant women from other parts of the Slavic world. To this end, we use data from the one percent public use sample of individual records of the 1981 Australian Census. We find that the labor force particiaation patterns of immigrant women from the former Yugoslavia are more shaped by education and less shaped by the life course than is true of other groups, although the life course matters for all of them. Indeed, in the impact of education on labor force they closely resemble the Eastern Europeans across most of the range of education. But in the impact of life cycle stage on participation they more closely resemble the Greeks and the Italians. This emphasizes how important it is that statistical agencies release data at the greatest possible level of detail: A country may belong in one group for some purposes, but in a different group for other purposes. We assess a number of explanations for birthplace differences in participation patterns, and find most wanting. We suggest that they may reflect culturally conditioned intergenerational wealth flows and patterns of time investiment in children and the elderly.