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Economic and demographic effects on working women in Latin America

Abstract

The paper uses historical census data and the latest household surveys to investigate the evolution of female employment in Latin America, the effect of demographic factors on female labor force participation, and the reasons for the observed male-female gap in labor earnings. The findings show that, though women's labor force participation in Latin America has indeed increased despite the adverse economic conditions of the last two decades, marriage and fertility still exercise a large negative effect on women's labor supply. On average in the 15 countries studied, marriage reduces the probability that a woman would work by half, and each child by a further 3–5% These effects result in age-participation profiles that decrease with age although the econometric analysis suggests that, as women get older, they have a ceteris paribus greater probability to seek employment. In all the countries studied women are rewarded less than men and gender differences in human capital characteristics cannot account for the observed earnings differential. The paper discusses the significance of the findings for potential policies to assist women, especially in the areas of education and fertility, and also suggests the direction of further reserarch.

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The views expressed here are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the World Bank and its affiliated organisations.

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Psacharopoulos, G., Tzannatos, Z. Economic and demographic effects on working women in Latin America. J Popul Econ 6, 293–315 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00599040

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Keywords

  • Human Capital
  • Labor Supply
  • Labor Force Participation
  • Female Labor
  • Female Employment