Women are under-represented in wage and salaried employment in low- and lower-middle- income countries. For very poor women who lack the basic assets or tools needed to be self-employed, reasonably paid wage labor outside of the home is often a preferred job option. The key, however, is expanding access to decent, non-exploitative jobs that are fairly compensated.

This is easier said than done. Occupational sex segregation and gender discrimination in the labor market, evident in both developing and industrial labor markets, mean that women tend to be in lower-paid occupations, and they are often paid less than men within the same occupational category.

Summary of Lessons

Many of the programs that have been evaluated have been put in place by governments to cope with high unemployment rates in times of economic crises or transitions, called active labor market programs. The programs usually focus on job search assistance, skills training, internships with companies and wage subsidies, including job vouchers that incentivize the firm to hire a worker it otherwise might not. These programs increase employment rates for adult women, sometimes more so than for adult men, but they do not increase wage rates.

Childcare programs have been implemented specifically to increase the supply of female workers in the economy on the assumption that a lack of affordable childcare prevents women from entering the workforce. Access to childcare is proven to increase women’s wage employment and earnings; however childcare programs must be designed to ensure quality, affordability and cost effectiveness.

In Guatemala City and rural Colombia, increased availability of childcare led to positive effects on the nutrition and development of young children participating, as well as increases in female employment.

Effects of Active Labor Market Programs on the Transition Rate from Unemployment into Regular Jobs in the Slovak Republic

The system of active labor market policies (ALMP) in the Slovak Republic consists to a large extent of the creation of socially purposeful and publicly useful jobs and of retraining of unemployed workers. So far, the effects of these types of active labor market policies have hardly been analyzed. This paper uses a unique administrative data from 20 Slovak districts to analyze to what extent it is beneficial for unemployed workers who want a regular job to accept a temporary ALMP-job or enter a retraining program. We find that indeed it is beneficial for workers to do so.

The Effect of a Large Expansion of Pre-Primary School Facilities on Preschool Attendance and Maternal Employment

We provide evidence on the impact of a large construction of pre-primary school facilities in Argentina. We estimate the causal impact of the program on pre-primary school attendance and maternal labor supply. Identification relies on a differences-in-differences strategy where we combine differences across regions in the number of facilities built with differences in exposure across cohorts induced by the timing of the program. We find a sizeable impact of the program on pre-primary school participation among children aged between 3 and 5.

Medium and Long Run Effects of Nutrition and Child Care: Evaluation of a Community Nursery Programme in Rural Colombia

In this paper we evaluate the effect of a large nutrition programme in rural Colombia on children nutritional status, school achievement and female labour supply. We find that the programme has very large and positive impacts. Dealing with the endogeneity of treatment is crucial, as the poorest children tend to select into the programme. Methods like Propensity Score Matching would even yield negative estimates of the impact of the program. Our results are robust to the use of instruments that do not depend on individual household choices.

The Impact of Training Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Case of Programa Joven

This research evaluates the "Programa Joven", a training program conducted by the Ministerio del Trabajo of Argentina. We adapt and apply a non-experimental evaluation methodology to answer the following questions: Does "Programa Joven" increase the labor income of the trainees? Does "Programa Joven" increase the probability of being employed? And (3) what is the rate of return to dollars spent on the "Programa Joven"? We used Propensity Scores Matching Estimators as our basic methodology to obtain a measure of the impact of the training program.

Subsidizing Vocational Training for Disadvantaged Youth in Developing Countries: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

This paper evaluates the impact of a randomized training program for disadvantaged youth introduced in Colombia in 2005. This randomized trial offers a unique opportunity to examine the impact of training in developing countries. We use originally collected data on individuals randomly offered and not offered training. The program raises earnings and employment, especially for women. Women offered training earn 18% more and have a 0.05 higher probability of employment than those not offered training, mainly in formal sector jobs.

Training Disadvantaged Youth in Latin America: Evidence From a Randomized Trial

Youth unemployment in Latin America is exceptionally high, as much as 50% among the poor. Vocational training may be the best chance to help unemployed young people at the bottom of the income distribution. This paper evaluates the impact of a randomized training program for disadvantaged youth introduced in Colombia in 2005 on the employment and earnings of trainees. This is one of a couple of randomized training trials conducted in developing countries and, thus, offers a unique opportunity to examine the causal impact of training in a developing country context.

Gender and Racial Discrimination in Hiring: A Pseudo Audit Study for Three Selected Occupations in Metropolitan Lima

In this paper, we adapt the audit studies methodology to analyze gender and racial differences in hiring for a particular segment of the market of three selected occupations in Metropolitan Lima: salespersons, secretaries and (accounting and administrative) assistants. The adapted pseudo-audit study methodology allows us to reduce the room for existence of statistical discrimination.

The Impact of Mexico's Retraining Program on Employment and Wages

This paper analyzes the impact and effectiveness of the Mexican Labor Retraining Program for Unemployed and Displaced Workers (PROBECAT). The strategy followed is to compare the post- training labor market experiences of trainees with those of a comparison group--a matched sample of unemployed individuals who were eligible for, but did not participate in, the PROBECAT program. The results of this exercise suggest that participation in PROBECAT reduced the mean duration of unemployment for both male and female trainees, and increased the monthly earnings of males, but not offemales.