Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Informalisation of Women’s Work: Consequence for Fertility and Child Schooling in Urban Pakistan

Female employment is considered an important means of lowering fertility through ways such as raising the age at marriage, through influencing desired family size and also through better knowledge and use of contraceptives. Increasing female labour force participation is frequently recommended as a critical policy measure for reducing the birth rate. However the significant inverse relationship between employment and fertility found for developed countries is weak or absent in the case of developing countries [Rodriguez and Cleland (1980)]. More recent evidence indicates that it is not so much employment per se but type of employment which is a critical determinant of reproductive behaviour [United Nations (1985)]. It has been shown that while high status professional jobs are associated with greater influence on women’s domestic autonomy and fertility, low paying jobs lead to an increasing burden of work with entirely different implications for fertility and other household related behaviour. In the context of Pakistan, despite two decades of industrial growth and development, official data sources show stagnant and low levels of female labour force participation rates (LFPR) in urban Pakistan. The LFPR for urban women ranged between 3 and 5 percent for the period between 1971 and 1988. Data collection methods of government agencies are known to greatly underestimate female labour force participation (FLFP) particularly in rural areas and in the urban informal sector where the distinction between productive and domestic activities tends to be ambivalent. Evidence from micro surveys indicates, on the contrary, an increasing influx of women in the urban labour market, particularly in the informal sector [Sathar and Kazi (1988); Shaheed and Mumtaz (1981); Bilquees and Hamid (1989)]. A large number are shown to be working in home-based piece-rate employment while domestic service mainly as sweepers, washerwomen, maids, etc……………………………

Shahnaz Kazi, Zeba A. Sathar

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