Diana Contreras Suarez, Melbourne Institute - Women's Transitions in the Labour Market: The challenges of Formal Sector Employment in Indonesia

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Title: Women's Transitions in the Labour Market: The challenges of Formal Sector Employment in Indonesia

Abstract: Although it is well established that women’s labour force participation drops markedly with marriage and childbearing, surprisingly little is known about women’s labour market transitions, both in developed and developing countries. This paper uses the Indonesian Family Life Survey to track the employment histories of over 9,000 women across a period of more than 20 years, observing them as they get married and have children. More than 40% of women are not working one year after the birth of their first child and approximately 8.6 million Indonesian women currently aged between 20 and 44 have dropped out the labour market as a result of marriage and childbearing. The difficulty of maintaining formal sector employment emerges as the key problem - 88% of never-married working women aged 24 are in formal employment compared to only 50% of women with one child. Those who leave the formal sector tend to leave the labour market. We find little evidence of women moving between the formal and the informal sectors. Indonesia’s formal sector is not equipped to retain women once they have a family. Policies such as flexible work hours; compressed work weeks; part- time work (with the same career opportunities and benefits as full-time work); the ability to work from home; and work-based child care are likely to boost women’s labour force participation, with consequent boosts to economic productivity and prosperity.

Presenter: Diana Contreras Suarez, Melbourne Institute

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