Female labor force participation
Female labor force participation is mainly driven by the value of women’s waged employment versus the value of their time outside the workplace. While women’s labor force participation has risen in many countries, it has plateaued in the US since 1990 and remains quite low in some countries and regions.
What matters, ultimately, is the opportunity and choice women have to work outside the home and their ability to access decent and productive employment. Women continue to have greater household and caring responsibilities and the motherhood wage penalty can represent a significant cost to being female and having children. Family-friendly policies, like paid maternity and parental leave and flexible work hours, can help, as can the expansion of childcare and universal preschool, but may also have unintended negative consequences for women’s career advancement.
Lack of progress on female labor force participation represents a lost economic, not to mention social, opportunity.
Gender inequalities in daily time allocation may have detrimental effects on earnings and well-beingMany countries experience gender differences, of various magnitudes, in the time devoted to paid work (e.g. market work time) and unpaid work (e.g. housework and childcare). Since household responsibilities influence the participation of women, especially mothers, in the labor market, the unequal sharing of unpaid work, with women bearing the brunt of housework and childcare, is one of the main drivers of gender inequality in the labor market. Understanding the factors behind these gender inequalities is crucial for constructing policies aimed at promoting gender equality and combating gender-based discrimination.MoreLess
Parental leave increases the family–work balance, but prolonged leave may have negative impacts on mothers’ careersAstrid Kunze, June 2022Numerous studies have investigated whether the provision and generosity of parental leave affects the employment and career prospects of women. Parental leave systems typically provide either short unpaid leave mandated by the firm, as in the US, or more generous and universal leave mandated by the government, as in Canada and several European countries. Key economic policy questions include whether, at the macro level, female employment rates have increased due to parental leave policies; and, at the micro level, whether the probability of returning to work and career prospects have increased for mothers after childbirth.MoreLess
Family-friendly policies increase women’s labor force participation, benefiting them, their families, and society at largeAnne E. Winkler, February 2022Female labor force participation is mainly driven by the value of their market wages versus the value of their non-market time. Labor force participation varies considerably across countries. To understand this international variation, it is important to further consider differences across countries in institutions, non-economic factors such as cultural norms, and public policies. Such differences provide important insights into what actions countries might take to further increase women's participation in the labor market.MoreLess
Government policies can stimulate female labor force participation if coherent and well thought-outNorberto Pignatti, November 2020Increasing women's labor force participation is important to sustainable economic development, especially in economies with highly educated women and an aging population. Women's participation varies across transition countries, driven by such economic and social factors as traditional views of gender roles and limited government support for caregivers. Still, in all countries there is clear scope for policies aimed at increasing women's participation. In particular, in countries where women's educational attainment is already high, policies to support a better work–life balance and female entrepreneurship look particularly promising.MoreLess
Women in crime Updated
Over the last 50 years women have been increasing their participation in the labor market and in the crime marketNadia Campaniello, July 2019In recent decades, women's participation in the labor market has increased considerably in most countries and is converging toward the participation rate of men. Though on a lesser scale, a similar movement toward gender convergence seems to be occurring in the criminal world, though many more men than women still engage in criminal activity. Technological progress and social norms have freed women from the home, increasing their participation in both the labor and the crime market. With crime no longer just men's business, it is important to investigate female criminal behavior to determine whether the policy prescriptions to reduce crime should differ for women.MoreLess
How to design social protection programs that poor women can benefit fromLisa Cameron, February 2019Women are more likely than men to work in the informal sector and to drop out of the labor force for a time, such as after childbirth, and to be impeded by social norms from working in the formal sector. This work pattern undermines productivity, increases women's vulnerability to income shocks, and impairs their ability to save for old age. Many developing countries have introduced social protection programs to protect poor people from social and economic risks, but despite women's often greater need, the programs are generally less accessible to women than to men.MoreLess