An Intriguing Puzzle of Female Labour Force Participation: Comparative Study of Selected South Asian Countries

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Female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) is a very important indicator to assess the gender status in the economy, and it affects the economic growth in positive way. Usually, FLFPR rises with economic growth as more job opportunities are created with structural diversification. FLFPR in South Asian countries poses an intriguing challenge as this phenomenon is not clearly seen. Specifically, the countries like India and Sri Lanka do not show the ‘U’-shaped feminization phenomenon with economic progress as experienced by many developed countries. The research shows that along with economic growth many other gender and cultural factors are vital for impacting FLFPR. The present study attempts to find out the impact of socio-economic and gender factors on FLFPR of the selected South Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. It makes use of the macroeconomic indicators collated from secondary data. The study shows that there is a high level of heterogeneity in FLFPR within these five counties. It is due to their unique socio-economic structure and the development path which they are following. The study further proves that gender status and gender empowerment policies play very important role in reducing the supply-side constraints and positively affecting the demand-side factors required to improve FLFPR.

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