Khoudja, Yassine (2); Platt, Lucinda (1)
1: London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom; 2: Utrecht University, Netherlands
Despite increasing female labour force participation (LFP) across Western countries, there remain large differences in LFP for women of different ethnic origins. While existing research has demonstrated that part of these differences can be attributed to compositional differences (age, qualifications, family context etc.) and to differences in gender role attitudes and religiosity, residual ‘ethnic effects’ typically remain. Moreover, dependence on cross-sectional data impedes understanding of when and how these differences emerge. Exploiting the longitudinal potential and large, nationally representative sample sizes of Understanding Society: the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we make an original contribution to the literature by investigating ethnic differences in women’s probabilities of labour market entry and exit. In addition, we explore how far these can be accounted for by a) human capital and demographic characteristics, b) the impact of relevant events (partnership and children), and c) gender role attitudes and religiosity. Focusing on the UK’s main immigrant origin groups and White majority women, we find that, adjusting for all these factors, Indian and Caribbean women do not differ from White majority women in their labour force entry and exit probabilities but that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are still less likely to enter and more likely to exit the labour market, while Black African women have higher entry rates. We also find that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women’s labour market entries and exits are less sensitive to partnership and child-bearing events than other women’s. We reflect on the implications of our findings for both policy and future research.