Determinants of the Supply of Women in the Labour Market: A MicroAnalysis

Publication Year : 1991

Neoclassical economists consider education to be one of thekey determinants of women entering the labour market. The higher thelevel of education, the greater is women’s participation in the labourmarket. [Becker (1980); Mincer (1980)]. However, the structuralistschool does not look at it so simply. In their view there are many otherfactors besides education which compel women to· sell their labourpower. [Benham (1980); Strober (1980)]. The principal factor compellingwomen to sell their labour is income. Therefore, according to thestructuralist school the lower is women’s household income, the greateris their compulsion to enter the labour market. How does this squarewith neoclassical theory? The structuralist school states that householdincome is the primary determinant of women’s sale of labour power.Therefore, in a society divided by income groups lower income classwomen will tend to sell their labour power more. However, within eachincome group an increase in education will increase the supply ofwomen’s labour and its returns. Due to inadequate data, relativelylittle analytical work on this issue has been undertaken so the presentstudy is an attempt to explore why some married women are engaged inearning activities, while some of them are not. Our sample consists ofever-married women, because normally they are considered independent,and their status is equal to their male partners. So they haverelatively more choice in entering the labour market compared tounmarried women. A comparison of this kind will help us to identify thefactors besides education in determining women’s supply of labour in themarket.

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