Female Labor in Jordan: A Systematic Approach to the Exclusion Puzzle


Friday, October 18, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Rubenstein 414, HKS

spices in dishes on table in JordanSpeaker: Semiray Kasoolu, Research Fellow, Growth Lab

About the Talk: Women in Jordan are excluded from labor market opportunities at among the highest rates in the world. Previous efforts to explain this outcome have focused on specific, isolated aspects of the problem and have not explained its persistence. After a careful review of the available literature and key stakeholder interviews in Jordan, we develop a comprehensive framework to analyze the causes of low female employment rates and systematically test their validity. We find that the nature of low female inclusion in Jordan’s labor market varies significantly with educational attainment, and identify evidence for different factors affecting different educational groups. Among women with high school education or less, we report extremely low participation levels and find the strongest evidence for this phenomena tracing to traditional social norms and poor public transportation. Among university graduates and above, we find that the problem is not one of participation but rather unemployment, which we trace to a problem of a small and undiversified private sector that is unable to accommodate women’s needs for work and family balance.

About the Speaker: Semiray Kasoolu has been a Research Fellow at the Center for International Development's Growth Lab since 2017. Her research areas include labor markets and gender and growth diagnostics. She works in projects in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Prior to joining CID, she worked with the World SME Forum in the Republic of Georgia to diagnose constraints to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Semiray holds a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID, 2017) from the Harvard Kennedy School.