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Federal Service for Labour and Employment. Although female workforce participation has increased in general, cross-country differences have also been rising. Some countries have failed to keep up with improvements witnessed elsewhere in Asia.
The growing differences in female labor force participation rates across Asia reflect declining or stagnant participation in countries that had low participation to begin with, notably India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Participation rates have also declined in China and Thailand, albeit from relatively high levels.
Its high female labor force participation rate outstrips the best performers among advanced Western economies see Chart 2. And it has also succeeded in maintaining female labor force participation of some 70 percent for more than two decades—a feat unsurpassed even among advanced economies. To understand the reason for better outcomes in Asia, it is important to identify where improvements have been the largest. As populations gray, the rising share of older workers tends to lower the workforce participation rate for both men and women, as older workers tend to be less active in the workforce.
Yet in Asia, despite the negative effects from aging, participation has improved for prime-age female workers—those 25—54 years of age—even as a rise in school enrollment for younger workers, both male and female, has delayed their entry into the workforce Anh and others, forthcoming.
These trends generally hold across all Asian countries, with a few exceptions—notably China, India, and Thailand—where prime-age female workers are becoming less attached to the workforce. The economic cycle has a strong bearing on labor market developments. Slower growth or recessions raise unemployment, which can lead workers to drop out of the labor market as they grow discouraged or their skills atrophy. Some may delay entering the job market until the economy recovers.
Asian economies have benefited from strong growth in recent years, which has supported female labor force participation and countered the effects of aging. In this regard, the Asian experience is different from that of advanced Western economies, which bore the brunt of the global financial crisis and where the ensuing economic downturn dragged down female labor force participation, adding to pressures generated by aging IMF But growth and aging do not entirely explain variations in female labor force participation in Asia.
Structural shifts in the economy and family- friendly policies have also played a role. A growing body of work shows that female labor market outcomes are also the result of interrelated social, structural, and individual characteristics, as well as of labor market policies and institutions that affect labor market outcomes both generally and for female workers specifically.
Global Beat Issue Brief No. To understand the reason for better outcomes in Asia, it is important to identify where improvements have been the largest. World Economic and Social Survey From Policy Failure to Policy Reform. But unlike the pre-crisis days, it did not appear to be a free float, but a managed float, like the Singapore dollar. In the monetary and financial area, actions should target reduced government intervention and ownership, stronger central bank independence and communications, and greater exchange rate flexibility. The costs of school supplies and drugs have increased significantly, beyond the reach of many poor rural families.
The impact of policies may vary depending on the structure of the economy and the stage of economic and institutional development. For instance, in more advanced economies, the extent of urbanization and postsecondary education tends to be linked with higher female labor force participation because female workers tend to be employed in higher-skill jobs in the urban service sector. These factors are less closely tied to female labor force participation rates in low-income countries characterized by high informal employment in the rural agricultural sector.