Determinants and Consequences of Female Labour Force Participation in Jordan: A Mixed Methods Approach

  • Lina Khraise

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis critically examines women’s participation in paid employment in Jordan. I explore three dimensions: the gender wage gap, the influence of norms on occupational choice, and the implications of maternal employment for child welfare. The analysis moves beyond traditional economic approaches to also incorporate a sociological interpretation of social norms and class. It is a combination of quantitative analysis using the 2010 and 2015 Jordan Labour Market Panel Survey (JLMPS) and the 2012 Jordan Demographic Health Survey (DHS), and qualitative analysis based on data collected through semi-structured interviews conducted in Amman, Jordan in 2017. The quantitative analysis on the wage gap suggests that glass ceilings and sticky floors persist due to the caveat of employment in occupations that do not conform with social norms. However, women in governorates with ample job opportunities and networks of support are more likely to be employed and benefit from wages at par with those of men. The qualitative analysis of women in non-traditional jobs shows that the decision to conform or deviate from norms is dependent on femininity and class. The strategies used to encourage and support the transcending of norms range from directly confronting existing problems to the creation of ‘enclaves’ that preserved norms rather than challenged them. The second part of the quantitative analysis shows that the influence of maternal employment on Early Child Development (ECD) is complex and varies by age group of the child. The evidence also suggests that large-scale child development facilities in Jordan are lacking in availability and quality and shows that it is a restriction for both female labour supply and early child development. Overall the thesis shows that there is a spectrum of socio-cultural and economic challenges that individual women face, and in turn, there is a spectrum of dynamic efforts by women to engage in the labour market. Another considerable result to note is that the women who are likely to be employed are the ones who have conditions that can ensure higher wages and positive outcomes for children, and thus are able to advocate for a change in gender norms and relations. In addition to its conceptual contributions, this thesis offers both methodological and policy contributions. The use of novel and sophisticated econometric methods and interview techniques give rise to critical insights on the nuances of female labour force participation including intra-group and inter-group inequalities in access to quality employment and childcare and strategies for transformative change. The policy contributions are underpinned by the need to recognise social norms and structural inequalities which do not reproduce power structures, prioritise women’s wellbeing and autonomy and aim to encourage positive gender relations and cross-class collaboration.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorWendy Kay Olsen (Supervisor) & Ralitza Dimova (Supervisor)

Cite this