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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Masters thesis
Title Gendered trends in labour force participation and education in South Africa
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2021
URL https://ukzn-dspace.ukzn.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10413/20046/Wagner_Amy_Lee_2021.pdf?sequence=1&isAll​owed=y
Abstract
In many countries, including South Africa, the average educational attainment of women has surpassed that of men. Economic theory and previous literature suggest that increases in education should result in increased economic participation. Despite this, in South Africa, the labour force participation rates of women lag behind those of men. Using NIDS data, this dissertation aims to investigate why this phenomenon occurs. Whilst several international studies have used decomposition analyses to investigate the factors responsible for gender differences in participation rates, there is a dearth of South African research that does so. This dissertation, therefore, adds to the literature by investigating South African gendered trends in labour force participation and education using descriptive statistics, and regression and decomposition analyses. The gender gap in participation is decomposed at cross-sections, and the general rise in African labour force participation rates over time, are then decomposed for men and women separately. Results indicate that the educational attainments of African men and women had consistently risen between 2008 and 2017. Women are found to have attained higher average levels of education than men but remain less likely to participate in the labour force. Education is shown to be positively and significantly related to the likelihood of labour force participation for men and women. Despite this, factors including the unequal division of childcare and the fact that fewer women live in urban areas, are suggested to be reasons why the participation gender gap persists. Overall, the results of this dissertation suggest that increasing female urbanisation and educational attainments (particularly to tertiary levels), as well as reducing the uneven division of childcare between genders, is likely to increase female labour force participation rates and reduce the gender gap in participation. Despite this, the study also finds that a larger portion of this gap remains attributable to behavioural differences in the way men and women respond to their individual characteristics. This suggests that even if the characteristics of men and women are equalised, unless differences in the way men and women behave are reduced, the participation gap is likely to persist.

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