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Female Labor Force Participation in Iran: A Structural Analysis

Mahdi Majbouri ()

Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, 2015, vol. 11, issue 1, 1-23

Abstract: Low female labor force participation (FLFP) rate in Iran, at the time that women’s education has been rising and their fertility rates have been falling, has remained a puzzle. By estimating elasticities of participation and hours with respect to wages (the extensive and intensive margins), this paper tries to shed some light on this puzzle. Using a structural estimation and controlling for selection, it depicts that the elasticity of women’s participation in the labor force with respect to wages is quite large, especially for married women. Based on this, one may argue that women’s participation is very sensitive to wages. But this is not consistent with the stylized facts about FLFP in Iran. The plausible implication of such elasticities, however, is that non-participating women have potential wages close to the wages of those who participate. Therefore, lower potential wages cannot be the factor that strongly dissuades women from participation. Instead, anticipated factors, such as labor market institutions and preferences, could be the underlying force hindering women from participation. The low FLFP rate can be explained better in light of these findings. The implications for policy and research are discussed.

Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1515/rmeef-2014-0042

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