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An exploratory study on low labour force participation of women in Sri Lanka

Authors:

S. J. M. N. G. Samarakoon ,

Department of Economics and Statistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Languages, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, LK
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Geetha Mayadunne

Abstract

Despite gender parity in education favoring female and positive outcomes in female education, about two thirds of the working age women in Sri Lanka do not participate in the labor force and stay at home. This study sought to understand the share distribution and incidence of stay at home women with different levels of education attainment and to identify reasons for non-participation. The analysis was based on quantitative data from the 2014 Labor Force Survey and 2012/13 Household Income and Expenditure Surveys of the Department of Census and Statistics, and on qualitative data collected from interviews with labor market experts. Quantitative analysis shows that the largest share and the highest incidence of working age women who do not participate in the labour force are upper secondary school dropouts. The lowest share and incidence are among those with tertiary education. Though the share of stay at home women with lower education was low, incidence was high. Irrespective of educational attainment, being married and having a household income were significant factors explaining non-participation in the labor force. Labour force participation of the tertiary educated women was not affected by maternal status, ethno religious identity or labor market factors. The qualitative data suggests the important role of reservation wages in the labor force participation decision of upper secondary school dropouts. The absence of soft and hard skills required to access jobs, meeting their reservation wage levels and the absence of employment guidance tend to impede their participation in the labor force.

How to Cite: Samarakoon, S.J.M.N.G. and Mayadunne, G., 2018. An exploratory study on low labour force participation of women in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences, 41(2), pp.137–151. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljss.v41i2.7701
Published on 31 Dec 2018.
Peer Reviewed

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