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Working paper

Women’s participation in the labour force (WP 05/06)

Issue date: 
Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Status: 
Current
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Document Date: 
Publication category: 
JEL classification: 
J10 - Demographic Economics: General
J21 - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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This paper provides a base of information on women’s labour force participation in New Zealand and in other OECD countries.

Abstract

Labour force participation is a topical issue in New Zealand. It is well known that the participation of New Zealand women aged 25-39 is low in comparison with women in other OECD countries. There has been considerable interest in policies which might raise women’s participation. This paper provides a base of information on women’s labour force participation in New Zealand and in other OECD countries. The low participation of younger New Zealand women seems to be driven largely by a combination of relatively low participation rates among mothers with young children and sole mothers, together with high fertility rates and high proportions of sole parent families. However, while New Zealand women tend to leave the labour force when they have children, they also tend to return strongly to the labour force when their children get older. Considered over all ages, New Zealand has a reasonably healthy female participation rate, and the total quantity of work done in New Zealand, relative to the size of the working-age population, is amongst the highest in the OECD.

Acknowledgements

Paul Callister, Sylvia Dixon, Tim Maloney and Bob Buckle provided very helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. I am also indebted to my colleagues at the Treasury for their assistance and in particular to Angus White, who worked on this project during his summer internship.

Disclaimer

The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the author(s). They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury. The Treasury takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in these working papers. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 23 October 2007