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Volume 144 (2005), Number 4

Special issue:

Women's labour force participation

  • Introduction
  • Women’s labour force participation rates in Latin America

    By Laís ABRAMO and María Elena VALENZUELA

    With 33 million women joining the labour market between 1990 and 2004, this means that women now represent 40 per cent of the economically active population in urban areas in Latin America. The authors of this study examine in detail the progress achieved in female rates of labour force participation, as well as the continuing gap between men and women in terms of access to quality jobs, of unemployment, remuneration and social protection. The sex-based inequality observed has got worse in some respects and has improved in others.

  • The Agreement on Textiles and Clothing: Potential effects on gendered employment in Pakistan

    By Karin Astrid SIEGMANN

    Because the system of “purdah” has translated into extreme occupational segregation, a disproportionately large share of Pakistan’s female labour force is employed in stitching/sewing made-ups and garments for export. But since January 2005, when the ATC terminated the decades-old quota regime that regulated international trade in textiles and clothing, the industry has been restructuring to cope with the consequences of increased competition on the newly liberalized global market. Siegmann argues that Pakistan’s competitive position is likely to suffer most in the made-ups/garments segment of the market. If so, women could eventually suffer disproportionate job losses with scant prospects for alternative employment.

  • Female labour force participation during economic crises in Argentina and the Republic of Korea

    By Kye Woo LEE and Kisuk CHO

    The impact of economic crisis on female labour force participation in two middle-income countries is explored, by testing two hypotheses: the “added workers hypothesis”, which holds that more women are likely to enter the labour force in order to compensate for household income lost because of the crisis; and the “discouraged workers hypothesis”, which posits that poor macroeconomic conditions and scarcity of jobs lead women to leave the labour force altogether. With FLFP rates rising in Argentina but falling in the Republic of Korea, neither hypothesis is supported. Differences in employers’ risk-aversion/discrimination in employment and compensation, and supportive public policies (e.g. on childcare), apparently explain most of the country differences.

  • Women in the Japanese labour market, 1947-2003: A brief survey


    Despite major legislative reforms in the late 1990s, Japan remains very conservative when it comes to the relationship between traditional gender roles and the labour market. In practice, women are still overwhelmingly confined to “mommy track” jobs. The author puts this tradition into historical perspective in an overview of economic development and changes in the legal framework and societal attitudes since the post-war years. A 2002 judicial decision, however, marked a turning point in the enforcement of equal opportunity legislation. Although current employment data continue to highlight extreme vertical segregation, signs of an incipient trend towards improvement suggest grounds for cautious optimism.

  • The socio-cultural dimension of women’s labour force participation choices in Switzerland

    By Fabio B. LOSA and Pau ORIGONI

    Is the trade-off that women make between work and family socio-culturally conditioned? To answer this question, the authors investigate the choices that women make as to whether they participate in the labour force and, if so, whether they do so on a full-time or part-time basis. Their case study focuses on the female population of Switzerland – a country divided into three distinct language regions (German, French, Italian) bridging southern and northern Europe, whose patterns of female labour force participation are known to differ. Based on an innovative application of classification trees, the authors’ research is also of significant methodological interest.

  • Books

    New ILO publications

  • Index for 2005

    Book reviews

Last update: 4 July 2005^ top