Thursday, 3 October 2013

Factors Affecting Women Participation in the Labor Force of Pakistan

Main concepts: Labor force, Labor force participation and developing countries
Labor force: The total number of People employed or seeking employment in a country or region also called work force.
Labor force participation: Measures the proportion(women) of a specific population (15 and above) considered to be either working or actively searching for a job.
Developing countries: A developing country, also called a less-developed country (LDC), is a nation with a low living standard, underdeveloped industrial base, and low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries.

Women Participation in the Labor Force of Pakistan

Women Participation in the Labor Force of Pakistan Women participation in the labor force in Pakistan has remained substantially lower than that of men’s in the world. However, women participation rate is high and gender gap low in many developing countries, because mostly women are involved in unpaid subsistence farming, and only a few are involved in other paid economic activities. In Pakistan, female labor force participation has risen at a greater rate than that of men since 1980. Pakistan average annual growth rate of FLFP was 4 percent in 1980 90, 4.9 percent in 1990-95 and 5.1 percent in 1995-98, whereas the growth rate of male labor force declined from 3.2 percent in 1980-90 to 2.5 percent in 1990-95 and 2.7 percent in 1995-98. Compared to other South Asian countries, FLFP rate is low in Pakistan. For example, FLFP rate is over 40 percent in Bangladesh and Nepal, 32 percent in India and Bhutan, 36 percent in SriLanka and only 27 percent in Pakistan (World Bank and UNDP).Pakistan being characterized as a developing country has a low incidence of women labor force participation compared to other low income countries. Even though women work from dawn to dusk performing household chores, yet their hard work is considered non-productive and go unrecorded in the respective system of national accounts, thereby making very less or no contribution to the socio-economic development in Pakistan. In Pakistan women, participation in the labor force remains low, merely because women are expected to perform household chores for example cleaning, cooking and taking care of children.
 Labour supply is not only a key component of socio-economic development, yet is an important factor for the advancement of women. Since in Pakistan half of the total population comprises of females, women participation in the labor force is an important factor determining the level of development. Pakistan comprises of a major chunk of female population, so them being jobless indicates a higher unemployment level in the country which defeats the purpose to develop. Also, there are certain industries such as clothing where women have broader spectrum and varied skills so they must be employed in accordance to their capabilities so that there is decreased opportunity cost of production. Participation of women in Pakistan can easily be increased in cottage industries due to our cultural and traditional skills. The participation of female labor force is desirable for both equity and efficiency reasons. Equity aspect shows that women’s participation in the labor force ultimately improves their relative economic position and increases the overall economic efficiency by enhancing the development potential of the country. In Pakistan, women are mostly unpaid family workers in the agriculture sector. However as their education improves so do their opportunities in the manufacturing and services sector. Moreover, to overcome severe economic crisis, women must be encouraged to actively participate in economic activities. Also a greater proportion of income earned by women themselves is used on the up-bringing of their children, providing them with quality education.

Factors of Labor Supply

Factors shaping the labor supply decisions of women in Pakistan include the following: Education, marital status, family size, households financial status and mobility of labor. All these explanatory variables can be better described and analysed by dividing them in various groups. First one being the women characteristics, including age of women, completed level of education, training/skills and marital status. Second is the household’s characteristics which might play a critical role in the decision making process and participation of women in economic activities. This includes whether the woman is the head of the household, the number of pre-school age children in the house, the type of family arrangement ( joint or nuclear), total members living in the house (male and female). Third is the financial status of the household based on the monthly expenditure. Last but not the least mobility of labor (occupational and geographical). A detailed in-depth study of the above factors will help give a clear picture of women participation in the labour force in Pakistan.
Women’s age positively influences the possibility of their involvement in economic activity. The more experienced and skilled they are, the more likely they are to participate in labor force. At the individual level women’s decision to work is subject to such factors as the availability of jobs, education level and skills. Human capital such as experience and job-training enhance productivity providing many job opportunities. Education is an important factor affecting women’s decision of labour force participation. Education qualifications enhance job prospects for all individuals and women, making certain jobs more easily available to them.Thus career oriented women with quality education are more likely to participate in labor force. On the other hand, married women are less likely to participate in economic activities. The opposite is true for the widow or divorced women.
Household characteristics play important role in determining women participation in the labour force. In households with illiterate male members, women are more likely to participate in economic activities or are forced to participate to support the family financially. Women’s participation increases if the male members of the household have low human capital. With an increase in number of pre-school children, women are less likely to participate. As the reproductive responsibilities in the home increases, women are most likely to postpone or abdicate participation in economic activities so that there is no hindrance in the up-bringing of children. In addition to this an increased number of family members of the households require women too to actively participate in economic activities to help male members support the family.
The economic status of household is another factor indicating the need for additional economic resources in the household. When the household heads are male employer or employee, women are less likely to participate in economic activities. However, with unpaid family members and male head of the household, women are more likely to participate.
Mobility of labor including both occupational and geographical factors also helps in determining the women participation in the labor force of Pakistan. Lack of information of job opportunities and unwillingness of women to move to another area for work reduces women participation in the labor force of Pakistan.


  1. yeah i agree with most of the points you shared. In our society, women face very hard time participating in labor force, especially when it comes to the men centered departments and other rural areas. I hope things will change in future.

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