Economic Change and Restructuring

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 37–69 | Cite as

Female employment in MENA’s manufacturing sector: the implications of firm-related and national factors

  • Ali Fakih
  • Pascal L. GhazalianEmail author


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has realized significant advances toward improving women’s well-being and social status over the last few decades. However, women’s employment rate in the MENA region remains one of the lowest in the world. This paper examines the implications of firm-related and national factors for female employment in manufacturing firms located in the MENA region. The empirical analysis is implemented for firm-level data derived from the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys database. It uses fractional logit and other econometric models to perform the estimations for female overall employment, female non-production employment, and female employment in managerial positions. The results reveal significant implications of firm-related factors, such as private foreign ownership, exporting activities, firm size, and labour composition, for female employment. They also show that national factors, such as economic development and gender equality, promote female employment. There are considerable differences in the estimated marginal effects across female employment categories. This paper provides policy-makers with directions to design strategies aiming at enhancing women’s economic opportunities and employment rates.


Female employment Fractional logit model Manufacturing firms MENA region 

JEL Classification

J16 J21 J23 J82 



The authors are grateful to two anonymous reviewers and to the editor, George Hondroyiannis, for comments and suggestions. The authors wish to thank Ragui Assaad, İpek İlkkaracan, Lars Vilhuber, and Philipp vom Berge, and the participants at the 47th Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association (2013), 34th Annual Meeting of the Middle East Economic Association (2014), and 20th Annual Conference of the Economic Research Forum (2014) for comments and discussions.


  1. Abe Y (2013) Regional variations in labor force behavior of women in Japan. Jpn World Econ 28(1):112–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abu Ghaida D, Klasen S (2002) The costs of missing the millennium development goal on gender equity. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  3. Adler NJ, Izraeli DN (1994) Competitive frontiers: women managers in a global economy. Blackwell Publishing, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  4. Attanasio O, Low H, Sanchez-Marcos V (2008) Explaining changes in female labour supply in a life-cycle model. Am Econ Rev 98(4):1517–1552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker GS (1971) The economics of discrimination. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ILCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bozkurt Ö (2012) Foreign employers as relief routes: women, multinational corporations and managerial careers in Japan. Gender Work Organ 19(3):225–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bratti M, Del Bono E, Vuri D (2005) New mothers’ labour force participation in Italy: the role of job characteristics. Labour 19(s1):79–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown C, Hamilton J, Medoff J (1996) Employers large and small. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  9. Buchanan J, Scott L, Yu S, Schutz H, Jakubauskas M (2010) Skills demand and utilisation: an international review of approaches to measurement and policy development. Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Paper No. 2010/04, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
  10. Bussmann M (2009) The effect of trade openness on women’s welfare and work life. World Dev 37(6):1027–1038CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Çağatay N, Berik G (1991) Transition to export-led growth in Turkey: is there a feminisation of employment? Cap Class 15(1):153–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Çağatay N, Özler S (1995) Feminization of the labour force: the effects of long-term development and structural adjustment. World Dev 23(11):1883–1894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cavalcanti T, Tavares J (2008) Assessing the “Engines of Liberation”: home appliances and female labor force participation. Rev Econ Stat 90(1):81–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chamlou N (2008) The environment for women entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa. The World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chamlou N, Muzi S, Ahmed H (2011) “Understanding the Determinants of Female Labor Force Participation in the Middle East and North Africa Region: The Role of Education and Social Norms in Amman.” Working Paper No. 31, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  16. Clark R, Ramsbey TW, Adler ES (1991) Culture, gender, and labor force participation: a cross-national study. Gend Soc 5(1):47–66Google Scholar
  17. Contessi S, de Nicola F, Li L (2013) International trade, female labor, and entrepreneurship in MENA countries. Fed Reserve Bank St Louis Rev 94(3):197–220Google Scholar
  18. Cuberes D, Teignier M (2014) Gender inequality and economic growth: a critical review. J Int Dev 26(2):260–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cuberes D, Teignier-Baqué M (2011) “Gender Inequality and Economic Growth.” Background Paper for World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  20. Curd A, Julian A, Sabow A, Seligman L (2007) The impact of foreign direct investment on Chinese women. In: Dayal-Gulati A, Finn M, Diermeier D (eds) Global corporate citizenship. Northwestern University Press, Evanston, ILGoogle Scholar
  21. Currie J, Madrian BC (1999) Health, health insurance and the labor market. In: Ashenfelter O, Card D (eds) Handbook of labor economics. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  22. Dettling LJ (2012) “Opting Back In: Home Internet Use and Female Labor Supply.” Working Paper, Department of Economics, University of Maryland, College Park, MDGoogle Scholar
  23. Eagly AH, Karau SJ (2002) Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychol Rev 109(3):573–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Esfahani HS, Shajari P (2012) Gender, education, family structure, and the allocation of labor in Iran. Middle East Dev J 4(2):1–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fagan C (2001) Time, money and the gender order: work orientations and working-time preferences in Britain. Gend Work Organ 8(3):239–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fakih A, Ghazalian PL (2014) Which firms export? An empirical analysis for the manufacturing sector in the MENA region. J Econ Stud 41(5):672–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gaddis I, Pieters J (2012) “Trade Liberalization and Female Labor Force Participation. Evidence from Brazil.” IZA Discussion Paper No. 6809, Institute for the Study of Labor, BonnGoogle Scholar
  28. Goldin C (1995) The U-shaped female labor force function in economic development and economic history. In: Schultz TP (ed) Investment in women’s human capital and economic development. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
  29. Gourieroux C, Monfort A, Trognon A (1984) Pseudo-maximum likelihood methods: theory. Econometrica 52(3):681–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Greenwood J, Seshadri A, Yorukoglu M (2005) Engines of liberation. Rev Econ Stud 72(1):109–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hayo B, Caris T (2013) Female labour force participation in the MENA region: the role of identity. Rev Middle East Econ Finance 9(3):271–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hewlett SA, Rashid R (2010) The battle for female talent in emerging markets. Harv Bus Rev 88(5):101–106Google Scholar
  33. Hofstede GH (2001) Culture consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  34. International Labour Organization (ILO) (1985) Women workers in multinational enterprises in developing countries. International Labour Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  35. International Labour Organization (ILO) (2014) Global employment trends 2014: risk of a jobless recovery?. International Labour Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  36. Kabeer N, Mahmud S (2004) Globalization, gender and poverty: Bangladeshi women workers in export and local markets. J Int Dev 16(1):93–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Karaoglan D, Okten C (2012) “Labor Force Participation of Married Women in Turkey: Is There an Added or a Discouraged Worker Effect?” IZA Discussion Paper No. 6616, Institute for the Study of Labor, BonnGoogle Scholar
  38. Killingworth MR, Heckman JJ (1986) Female labor supply: a survey. In: Ashenfelter O, Laynard R (eds) Handbook of labor economics. Elsevier Science Publishers, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  39. Klasen S, Lamanna F (2009) The impact of gender inequality in education and employment on economic growth: new evidence for a panel of countries. Fem Econ 15(3):91–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Klasen S, Pieters J (2012) “Push or Pull? Drivers of Female Labor Force Participation during India’s Economic Boom.” IZA Discussion Paper No. 6395, Institute for the Study of Labor, BonnGoogle Scholar
  41. Kohara M (2010) The response of Japanese Wives’ labor supply to husbands’ job loss. J Popul Econ 23(4):1133–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kutner MH, Nachtsheim CJ, Neter J (2004) Applied linear regression models, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  43. Lee BS, Jang S, Sarkar J (2008) Women labor force participation and marriage: the case of Korea. J Asian Econ 19(2):138–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Li X (2011) “Fixed Effects Estimation in Panel Nonlinear Fractional Response Models.” Working Paper No. 2011-11, Department of Economics, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CTGoogle Scholar
  45. Maddala GS (1991) A perspective on the use of limited-dependent and qualitative variables models in accounting research. Account Rev 66(4):788–807Google Scholar
  46. Mammen K, Paxson C (2000) Women’s work and economic development. J Econ Perspect 14(4):141–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Masters SH (1969) An interindustry analysis of wages and plant size. Rev Econ Stat 51(3):341–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mincer J (1962) Labor force participation of married women: a study of labor supply. In: Lewis HG (ed) Aspects of labor economics. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  49. Mitchell OS, Andrews E (1981) Scale economies in private multi-employer pension systems. Ind Labor Relat Rev 34(4):522–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Moghadam V (2005) Globalizing women: transnational feminist networks. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MDGoogle Scholar
  51. Morrison AR, Sabarwal S, Sjöblom M (2008) The state of world progress, 1990–2007. In: Buvinić M, Morrison AR, Ofosu-Amaah AW, Sjöblom M (eds) Equality for women: where do we stand on the millennium development goals 3?. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  52. Oakley JG (2000) Gender-based barriers to senior management positions: understanding the scarcity of female CEOs. J Bus Ethics 27(4):321–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Olivetti C (2006) Changes in women’s aggregate hours of work: the role of returns to experience. Rev Econ Dyn 9(4):557–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Papke LE, Wooldridge JM (1996) Econometric methods for fractional response variables with an application to 401(k) plan participation rates. J Appl Econom 11(4):619–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Paris LD, Howell JP, Dorfman PW, Hanges PJ (2009) Preferred leadership prototypes of male and female leaders in 27 countries. J Int Bus 40(8):1396–1405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pissarides C, Garibaldi P, Olivetti C, Petrongolo B, Wasmer E (2005) Women in the labour force: how well is Europe doing? In: Boeri T, Del Boca D, Pissarides C (eds) Women at work: an economic perspective. Oxford University Press, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  57. Prieto-Rodríguez J, Rodríguez-Guitiérrez C (2003) Participation of married women in the European labor markets and the added worker effect. J SocioEcon 32(4):429–446Google Scholar
  58. Puhani P (2000) The Heckman correction for sample selection and its critique. J Econ Surv 14(1):53–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ramalho EA, Ramalho JJ, Murteira JM (2011) Alternative estimating and testing empirical strategies for fractional regression models. J Econ Surv 25(1):19–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rauch JE, Kostyshak S (2009) The three Arab worlds. J Econ Perspect 23(2):165–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sarbu M (2014) “Determinants of Flexible Work Arrangements.” Discussion Paper No. 14-028, Centre for European Economic Research, MannheimGoogle Scholar
  62. Sartori A (2003) An estimator for some binary-outcome selection models without exclusion restrictions. Polit Anal 11(2):111–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schmidt CM, Zimmermann KF (1991) Work characteristics, firm size and wages. Rev Econ Stat 73(4):705–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Siegel J, Pyun L, Cheon BY (2011) “Multinational Firms, Labor Market Discrimination, and the Capture of Competitive Advantage by Exploiting the Social Divide.” Working Paper No. 11-011, Harvard Business School, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  65. Smith K (2011) Labor Force Participation in the Soviet and post-Soviet Baltic States. Econ Change Restruct 44(4):335–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Standing G (1999) Global feminization through flexible labor: a theme revisited. World Dev 27(3):583–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stevenson L (2010) Private sector and enterprise development: fostering growth in the Middle East and North Africa. International Development Research Center (IDRC), OttawaGoogle Scholar
  68. Tam H (2011) U-Shaped female labor participation with economic development: some panel data evidence. Econ Lett 110(2):140–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tansel A (2001) “Economic Development and Female Labor Force Participation in Turkey: Time-Series Evidence and Cross-Province Estimates.” Economic Research Forum Working Paper No. 01/05, Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, AnkaraGoogle Scholar
  70. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2012). MENA Women Entrepreneurs’ Access to Credit and Financial Services. In: Women in business: policies to support women’s entrepreneurship development in the MENA region. OECD Publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
  71. The World Bank (2011) Capabilities, opportunities and participation: gender equality and development in the Middle East and North Africa region. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  72. The World Bank (2013a) World development indicators, gender statistics. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  73. The World Bank (2013b) Gender at work. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  74. Toh SM, Leonardelli GJ (2012) Cultural constraints on the emergence of women as leaders. J World Bus 47(4):604–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wagner J (2001) A note on the firm size: export relationship. Small Bus Econ 17(4):229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Weiss JA, Ramirez FO, Tracy T (1976) Female participation in the occupational system: a comparative institutional analysis. Soc Probl 23(5):525–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wooldridge JM (2002) Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  78. Zeytinoglu IU, Cooke G, Mann S (2010) Employer offered family support programs, gender and voluntary and involuntary part-time work. Relat Ind/Ind Relat 65(2):177–195Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, School of BusinessLebanese American UniversityBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

Personalised recommendations