Authored by Bisma Iftekhar

Determinants of female labour force participation in South Asia

A Case Study of Pakistan

Female labour force participation (FLFP) presents severe marginalization of women in South Asia due to several socio-economic reasons. This study mainly focuses on Pakistan and analyzes factors such as mobility, culture/norms, sector of work, location, religion, income, and education. Specifically, given the unclear relationship between education and FLFP, this paper examines the effect of primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education on FLFP in Pakistan while considering factors, for instance, the nature of women’s work, income, mobility, location, household size and childcare. The provincial analysis shows high employment rates in Punjab, followed by Sindh, KP and Baluchistan. Moreover, the percentage of employment is much higher in rural areas in all four provinces. Furthermore, for all the four provinces, as the total household income increases, the LFP of women with higher education increases manifolds and more and more women work on regular contracts as opposed to causal ones. However, it is not just the factors of income and education that determine the FLFP probabilities but an interplay of various socio-economic factors that influence the participation decision. Hence, for a concrete analysis and to draw inference, a Probit regression is done using the cross-sectional data of the Labour Force Survey of Pakistan 2017-18. Findings suggest that that women have a 33.4% lower probability of participating in the labour force than males and individuals with no formal education have a higher participation probability than those with primary and secondary levels of education. However, the probability of participation increases considerably with tertiary levels of education. Gender also plays a role as women with primary level of education have a lower participation probability than males with no formal education. Though there is a small increase for the ones with secondary and tertiary levels of education. The analysis also reveals that with increasing age, the probability of participating in the labour market decreases. The analysis also shows a correlation between education, type of contract, income, childcare, and mobility, implying that the higher the woman in Pakistan is educated, the more she is engaged in regular contracts. Furthermore, her income level rises with each additional year of education, she is more mobile and works outside the house, and has a lesser childcare burden.

Iftekhar, Bisma

Determinants of female labour force participation in South Asia

A case study of Pakistan
Islamabad, 2021

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