Munich Personal RePEc Archive

What firm characteristics determine women’s employment in manufacturing? Evidence from Bangladesh

Ahmed, Salma and Feeny, Simon and Posso, Alberto (2015): What firm characteristics determine women’s employment in manufacturing? Evidence from Bangladesh. Published in: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal , Vol. 35, No. 2 (2016): pp. 99-122.

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Abstract

Purpose – This study investigates the principal determinants of women’s employment in the manufacturing sector of Bangladesh using a firm-level panel data from the World Bank’s ‘Enterprise Survey’ for the years 2007, 2011 and 2013. The paper sheds light on the demand-side factors, mainly firm-level characteristics, which also influence this decision.

Design/methodology/approach - We estimate a fractional logit model to model a dependent variable that is limited by zero from below and one from above.

Findings - The results indicate that firm size, whether medium or large, and firms’ export-oriented activities, have an important impact on women’s employment in the manufacturing sector in Bangladesh. Moreover, we find that women are significantly more likely to work in unskilled-labour intensive industries within the manufacturing sector.

Research limitations/implications – The research is limited to Bangladesh; however, much of the evidence presented here has implications that are relevant to policymakers in other developing countries.

Practical implications – The study identifies factors that affect female employment, that is, where the main constraints to increase female labour force participation. The study focuses on the demand-side factors, which has been somewhat neglected in recent years. As such, it has practical policy implications.

Social implications – Focusing on female employment in Bangladesh also sheds light on the nexus between labour market opportunities and social change within a country that is characterised by extreme patriarchy, which has wide-reaching implications.

Originality/value – This is an original and comprehensive paper by the authors.

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