Female Labour Force Participation and Fertility: a Study of Women of Reproductive Age in Kenya
Maingi, Leah W
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Female labor force participation rate increased from 70.7% in 1986 to 76% in 2005/06. Participation of women in the labor force promotes economic growth and assist in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. However, women are underrepresented in the labor force as their participation is lower than male participation rates. The rise in female labor force participation in Kenya coincided with a decline in fertility rate over the same period. Little is known about how fertility affects female labor force participation in Kenya. The objective of this paper is to investigate the effect of fertility on labor force participation of women of reproductive age in Kenya. The study adopted the neoclassical labor supply theory to derive a theoretical model. Demand functions for leisure, children and consumption were derived by maximizing a woman’s utility function subject to the full income constraint. From the demand functions a labor force participation equation was developed. Given that fertility is potentially endogenous, the study made an attempt to instrument for fertility. However, the instruments used were weak. Therefore, the study used a probit model and data from Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2008-2009 to identify the factors that influence a woman labor force participation decision. Results indicated that number of children born and living to a woman and higher education attainment increases the probability of women participating in the labor force. Women with children under 5 years, Muslims and married women are less likely to participate in the labor force. Results also show that being a resident in North Eastern region of Kenya reduces probability of participating in the labor force. The policy implication of this finding is that policies that aim at freeing much of women’s xi time such as putting preschool facilities, subsidizing childcare and so on should be pursued. Information and education programmes are needed to enlighten women on the benefits associated with participation in economic activities. This study focused much on how fertility affects female labor force participation. Future studies should consider analyzing how schooling affects both fertility and labor force participation of women in Kenya. This study provides additional evidence that fertility affects female labor force participation positively.
University of Nairobi
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