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​Gender Differences in Time Use and Labor Force Participation: How Household Chores and the Burden of Care affect Labor Market?

Female Labor Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) has increased more than twofold from 1991 to 2016 in Bangladesh, rising to 36.3% (LFS, 2016), compared to 14.0% in 1990-1991 (Rahman & Islam, 2013). On the other hand, male participation has declined from 86.2% in 1990-1991 and has hovered around 80% in the recent years (LFS, 2016; Raihan & Islam, 2013). Moreover, between 1993 and 2014, the proportion of women who had completed at least secondary schooling rose from 18% to 70% while fertility fell from a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 6.3 in the mid-1970s to just over 4 in the early 1990s to 2.3 births by 2017 (Amin, 2022). However, the rapid increase in secondary education attainment and the steady decline in fertility rates has not translated into an expected commensurate increase in FLFPR. Disaggregation by occupation and by education, suggest that work opportunities continue to be dominated by low skill jobs among females. 

Literature have suggested that women’s engagement in domestic activities influence both the decision of their entry into the labor market as well as their occupational choices. Studies indicate that the nature and consequently the implications of time-use on labor force participation and occupation choices are drastically different for women and men. In addition, the disproportionate burden of domestic responsibilities also highlights the importance and the inadequacies of the care economy in Bangladesh. In this context, the proposed study will use the existing secondary data sources to examine the association of time-use and labor market outcomes for women as well as conduct a primary survey to fill the gaps identified from the secondary analysis and explore the interrelation of women’s productive and reproductive history in more detail.

Objective(s) of the Study:   The objective of the study is to assess the patterns of time use and labor force participation choices by exploring the following questions:

a) What are the t differences in time-use (hours spent in domestic chores vs productive labor market activities) among women participating and not participating in labor force?

b) Patterns of time use and women’s work status in the labor market:

c) How does hours dedicated to domestic activities affect occupational choices of women with similar educational attainment as that of men?

d) Time-use differences among men and women in various occupations

e) How does various aspects and facilities of the labor market (location of work, availability of contract, availability of daycare facilities, maternal leave, etc.) play into the distribution across occupations and patterns of time-use?

The primary survey will allow us to explore both reproductive and productive history including timing of entry into work, marriage and leaving school (as part of the combined work, education and reproductive history) to overcome the limits of currently available secondary data.

The study will bring to the fore issues which, if addressed, will provide impetus to the sluggish growth of FLFP in Bangladesh and yield a more desirable outcome for women from a welfare perspective.

Methodology:     The study will consist of two parts: i) one relying on descriptive and econometric analysis of secondary data; ii) another relying on primary survey. The secondary analysis will use various rounds of LFS, BIHS as well as Time-use Survey 2012 data.

Study Team: Dr. Sajeda Amin, Mahir. A. Rahman, Nahian Azad Shashi

Time period: June, 2022 – June, 2023.

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