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WP 04/084 - What has the feminisation of the labour market 'brought' women in South Africa? Trends in labour force participation, employment and earnings, 1995 - 2001

Author: 
Daniela Casale

Date of Publication: 
March 2004

Abstract: 
There has been a dramatic increase in the labour force participation of women in South Africa since the mid-1990s. Male participation has also been increasing but at a substantially slower rate, such that a feminisation of the labour force has occurred, mirroring a more general global trend that has been occurring since World War Two. Unlike the experience in many other countries, however, the rise in the labour force participation of women in South Africa has translated mainly into an increase in unemployment. Nonetheless, there has also been some increase in employment among women over the same period. This paper analyses what this rise in employment has ‘bought’ women in South Africa in terms of access to different types of employment and earnings for the period 1995 to 2001. The analysis suggests that the nature of the feminisation of the labour market in South Africa has been such that the disadvantaged position of women in the labour market relative to that of men has not been fundamentally challenged. Women continue to be over-represented in low-income, less secure employment. Where there has been some opportunity for advancement over the period, white women seem to have been the main beneficiaries.

Download Working Paper: DPRU WP 04/084