female labour force participation

Female Labour Force Participation


Published 28.02.24

What are the barriers constraining women's labour supply? What policies can increase women’s labour supply?

Women’s labour force participation is lower than men’s throughout the world. Policymakers are often interested in increasing women’s labour supply, given its positive impacts on women’s empowerment, children’s human capital, and overall economic growth. We identify several policies that consistently increase women’s labour supply: increasing childcare availability, empowering women within households, psychological interventions, prompting businesses to offer amenities like flexibility that female employees value, and increased global exposure among export industries that disproportionately hire women. Other policies we discuss, such as skills training or depression treatment, yield more mixed results and are probably insufficient by themselves to increase women’s labour supply in environments where they face other large barriers, such as social norms or childcare and other household obligations. We also identify several important barriers to women’s labour supply – namely, discrimination and a lack of safety and harassment in public spaces. Developing effective policies to address these constraints remains an important and unresolved question.

Presentation of key takeaways

For our launch event, Rachel Heath joined us to present the key takeaways from this VoxDevLit, highlighting policy relevant results from recent economic research on female labour force participation.