The Economics of Women and Work in the Middle East and North Africa: Volume 4


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(19 chapters)
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Pages 1-11
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The gender gap in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is one of the largest in the world, despite considerable evidence that gender equality is associated with higher economic growth and improved human development. The size and implications of the gender gap in the region are reviewed to explore alternatives for reducing gender inequities. Unlike the focus on supply-side interventions, such as providing access to schools or to contraceptives, highlighted in some of the gender literature, this paper argues that progress in enhancing women's economic roles must rely more on changing the demand for women's education and employment.

In this paper we examine cross-country evidence on the status of women in the Middle East and North Africa, where high female illiteracy, fertility and maternal mortality rates are observed. We introduce a new concept, “female endangerment”, and construct a composite index using these three components, to look at female endangerment in the region. We argue that gender empowerment cannot be properly assessed independently of women's deprivation. We take a first step of identifying the socio-economic determinants of female endangerment and their relationship to other development correlates.

This paper investigates the relationship between female labor force participation rates and structural adjustment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We put forward a new hypothesis to explain MENA's low female labor force participation rates, and argue that during the oil boom era MENA countries locked themselves into family structures and female socio-economic roles which are not compatible with current economic realities in an era of globalization. We conclude that the socio-economic role of women can be an important missing link in explaining the puzzle of economic adjustment in the MENA region.

I advocate the use of the family of Generalized Entropy measures for the analysis of short and long run earnings inequality between men and women and among women in MENA. In order to lend credibility to the analysis of earnings inequality by sex, long-run measures of earnings inequality free of transitory components and decomposable by specific characteristics, must be used. Utilizing such techniques in MENA is particularly important since the region is undergoing rapid changes in women's labor force participation rates. A priority of policy makers should be the collection of good longitudinal data that can address these questions.

I examine patterns, problems, and prospects of women's employment in MENA, where the regional political economy is changing in the context of the pressures of globalization. The research indicates that a trend in all countries is an increase in the supply of job-seeking women, and a “feminization” of government employment. It is likely that the opening up of economies may subvert some patriarchal aspects of gender relations by increasing women's economic participation in the long run, but the social terms on which this is done are highly problematic in the short run.

We provide evidence that pooling different forms of employment into a single category is not warranted in the case of female workers in Egypt. We show that the determinants of participation and hours of work in regular versus, casual paid work, agricultural versus, non-agricultural self-employment are markedly different. Our results show that the type and hours of work are largely determined by the point of a woman's life-cycle, level of education, role in the household, and the employment status of male members of her household. We find different determinants of regular wage work and self-employment and unpaid family labor.

In this paper I examine differences in labor patterns in the Bethlehem area by sex. I find that there is considerable occupational segregation, as well as a wage gap between men and women, particularly among less educated women. This wage gap is accentuated by men's and women's differential opportunities vis à vis the Israeli economy. Men working in the Israeli sector, primarily in the construction sector, receive a wage premium, while women, who work primarily as subcontractors to Israeli textile and garment producers, do not and are among the lowest paid workers in the economy.

This paper argues that the longstanding absence of Palestinian women from the formal labor force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip can be located in the distorted nature of Palestinian labor markets as they were patterned and conditioned by economic policies aimed at meeting the needs of the Israeli economy. The extremely gender segmented and concentrated nature of Palestinian labor markets is an outcome of the way in which gender relations in Palestinian society interact with the extremely constrained labor opportunities for the population as a whole. As such, the informal sector remains the dominant option for women seeking work income.

In this study I examine gender-based earnings differences among the urban self-employed in Turkey. I argue that human capital, as well as prevailing social and institutional structures, contribute to earnings differences. Social and institutional factors considered include women's heavy non-market work burden, and their reduced mobility. I conclude that women's lower earnings are not a result of free and rational choices. Since women are not really expected to choose to concentrate in low-return, labor-intensive tasks, these choices are more likely to be made within the context of uneven economic development and pre-existing gender inequalities.

Based on an empirical data set including 432 managers, of whom 41 are women, this paper examines factors affecting female managers' careers in Turkey. Focusing on behavioral, human capital and demographic factors, results show that there are no differences in leadership styles and personalities between female and male managers. There are, however, differences in the level of education and family's socio-economic status by sex. We argue that higher socio-economic status of female managers' families affects their careers positively. By contrast, the lower level of female education as compared to males in addition to culturally pervasive and legally institutionalized discriminatory societal attitudes negatively affect female managers' career progress.

This paper analyzes the patterns of employment in Turkey's banking sector during the post-1980 era from the perspective of occupational sex segregation. Occupational status of women and men in the banking sector is studied using sample survey data collected from 16 private banks. Indices for occupational segregation are computed for each bank as well as for the sector. Although the sampled banks are not homogenous in terms of the patterns of segregation, there is evidence of weak segregation. The findings indicate that many banking sector employees, especially females, are overqualified for their positions. The disproportionate representation of occupational categories by education and sex highlights the need for caution in evaluating the recent feminization of the banking sector as a definitely positive trend.

“Post-Fordist” organization of production brings about new paradigms and restructuring in the labor markets. This paper studies informal labor markets and the role of women in post-Fordist production in Turkey. The aim of the paper is to discuss the hypothesis that the female role in an Islamic society, as modeled in accordance with political Islam, is quite compatible with the differentiated labor market structure in the post-Fordist production organization.

We examine the issue of gender power by developing four proxies using data from a field survey conducted in Izmir, Turkey. Four proxies for power include income, absolute and proportional spending, and personal leisure time and all are defined relative to the spouse. We find that women have relative power with respect to monetary measures with a high correlation between intra-family status and socio-economic stratum. In addition we find evidence that working women bear a heavy home work burden. However, we also find that there is a strong socio-economic component to this result, where the lower the socio-economic stratum, the smaller are the number of leisure hours.

The two most important changes in the lives of Iranian women in the last ten years are rapid decline in fertility and rise in their educational attainment. The prevailing view on the recent fertility decline attributes fertility decline primarily to an energetic family planning program. In this paper I examine the relationship between fertility and education using cross section data. Analysis of two household surveys taken in 1987, and in 1992, shows a close association between education and fertility. I conclude by noting that, in the absence of increased opportunities for women to work outside the home, the observed relationship between fertility and education is likely to derive from the lower cost of child education for more educated couples, which leads households to substitute quality for quantity of children.

This is an exploratory attempt at conceptualizing the legal and ideological treatment of women's work in the Islamic Republic of Iran. With an awareness of basic methodological differences, I have borrowed and modified concepts and categories developed in economic theory. The neoclassical economic model recognizes two categories of productive female labour, and thus two types of allocation of female labour time: allocation of time for household production, and allocation of time for labor market. I will argue that the Islamic legal perception of female labor, as applied to the case of contemporary Iran, bears similarity to this theoretical model. Post-revolutionary legal system in Iran however, recognizes three categories of productive female labor: marital duties, household labor; and participation in the labor market. The government has also introduced provisions for compensation of household labor, and considers the first two categories the primary duties of a Muslim woman which leads to the justification for discriminatory policies concerning women's labor market participation and education.

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Research in Middle East Economics
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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