Female Labour Force Participation in Indonesia: Why Has It Stalled

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 11/18

Date: October 2018


Lisa Cameron
Diana Contreras Suárez
William Rowell


This paper examines the drivers of female labour force participation in Indonesia and disentangles the factors that have contributed to it remaining largely unchanged for two decades at around 51%. Data from the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) and the Village Potential Statistics (Podes) over the period 1996 to 2013 are used to implement a cohort analysis which separates out life-cycle effects from changes over time in women’s labour market participation. We find that the raw labour market participation figures which show little change over time mask changes that offset one another in the current population. There is evidence of social norms changing to support women’s participation but this is offset by the effect of the changing industrial structure. Projections show that with the current policy settings Indonesia is unlikely to reach its G20 target of decreasing the gender gap in participation by 25% between 2014 and 2025.

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