Maternal Employment and Child Health

Maternal Employment and Child Health

Global Issues and Policy Solutions

Yana van der Meulen Rodgers

As women’s labor force participation has risen around the globe, scholarly and policy discourse on the ramifications of this employment growth has intensified. This book explores the links between maternal employment and child health using an international perspective that is grounded in economic theory and rigorous empirical methods.

Chapter 2: Women’s Employment Around the Globe

Yana van der Meulen Rodgers

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, economics and finance, asian economics, health policy and economics, labour economics, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


Gender differences in labor market outcomes around the world typically encompass a number of areas: participation rates in the formal labor market, segregation by occupation and industry, wage differentials, and hours of paid and unpaid work. Especially in less developed countries, high female labor force participation rates may not dramatically differ from those of men. Larger gender differences begin to emerge primarily in the realm of unpaid domestic work. Women generally work longer hours than men and they perform more unpaid housework than men. Moreover, men tend to experience a fairly stable time use profile over their lifetimes, whereas women experience more variable paid and unpaid workloads as family structures change. The differences between men and women are largest when caring for young children. On average, when women engage in paid work, they earn less than men. Gender differences in wages are an international phenomenon, and the male advantage in wages often persists over time. Gender differences in occupational distributions can play a major role in explaining gender earnings gaps: if women are concentrated in relatively low-paying occupations, or if pay structures within occupations are inequitable across gender, then women will have lower average earnings than men. Across countries, men and women cluster in different occupations and industries. This chapter discusses each of these patterns in more detail. Labor Force Participation The relationship between economic development and women’s participation in the formal labor market exhibits a fairly predictable and well-documented relationship. In countries that still have relatively large agricultural sectors...

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