WP 01/054 - The role of education and fertility in the participation and employment of African women in South Africa

Cecil Mlatsheni and Murray Leibbrandt

Date of Publication: 
September 2001

Policy makers are well aware that creating jobs is an important priority if the health of our economy is to be preserved and improved. However, the first step towards a successful strategy of employment creation is an understanding of the labour market. Much attention has been devoted to analysing the unemployment/employment divide without sufficient attention being given to labour market participation itself. The aim of this paper is to add this dimension. Our focus is on African women, looking at the extent of the influence of education as well as fertility on their participation and employment. The first section takes a descriptive look at the relationship between education, fertility, and employment. We find that education is negatively related to fertility but positively related to employment. We also find that fertility and employment are negatively related. The next section tests these findings through estimating more formal models of participation and employment. Our conclusion is that education plays a significant role in the participation and employment of African women. However, fertility has an insignificant effect on participation of African women in the labour market. This is likely to be a result of the fact that African women are relatively poorer than the rest.

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