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Changes in Female Labour Supply in the Netherlands 1989–1998: The Case of Married and Cohabiting Women


It is well-known that married and cohabitingwomen differ in labour supply. But we know verylittle about the causes of this difference. Isit due to differences in characteristics, likeage, presence and ages of children, own netwage rate, and net income of the partner? Or isit a difference in behaviour that – even aftercontrolling for variation in characteristics –is the basic cause? In this article we try toanswer these questions for Dutch married andcohabiting women. We use data of nationalsurveys by Statistics Netherlands for 1989 and1998. This also allows us to investigatewhether there have been important changes inthe last decade. Because we are able to comparethe results with those of an analogous analysisthat two of the authors did on similar Dutchdata for 1981 we are able to draw conclusionsabout changes that took place over the lasttwenty years. The results show that the massivegrowth in female labour force participation isespecially due to the growth in participationby married women. A slight decrease in labourmarket participation of cohabiting women can beobserved in the last decade. This seems to bethe result of cohabitation becoming morenormal, including cohabitation when there areyoung children in the household.

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Correspondence to Kène Henkens.

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Henkens, K., Grift, Y. & Siegers, J. Changes in Female Labour Supply in the Netherlands 1989–1998: The Case of Married and Cohabiting Women. European Journal of Population 18, 39–57 (2002).

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  • cohabitation
  • couples
  • female labour supply
  • The Netherlands