Does Workforce Participation Empower Women? Micro-Level Evidence from Urban Bangladesh

Empirical studies on the impact of women’s paid jobs on their empowerment and welfare in the Bangladesh context are rare. The few studies on the issue to date have all been confined to the garment workers only although studies indicate that women’s workforce participation in Bangladesh has increased across-the-board. Besides, none of these studies has made an attempt to control for the non-working women and/or applied any statistical technique to control for the effects of other pertinent determinants of women’s empowerment and welfare such as education, age, religion and place of living. This study overcomes these drawbacks and presents alternative assessments of the link between women’s workforce participation and empowerment on the basis of survey data from the two largest cities in Bangladesh. While the generic assessment indicates that women’s paid jobs have positive implications for women’s participation in decisions on fertility, children’s education and healthcare as well as their possession and control of resources, the econometric assessment negates most of these observations. Women’s education, on the other hand, appears to be more important than their participation in the labour force. The study underlines the fact that by omitting other relevant explanatory variables from the analysis, the previous studies might have overestimated the impact of women’s paid work on their empowerment. Among other things, the paper also highlights the importance of women’s job category, religion and regional differences for women’s empowerment.

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Working or Discussion Paper
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ISSN: 1442-8563 (Other)
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Social Economic, Policy and Development

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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