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J Comp Econ. 1983 Jun;7(2):158-76.

The labor-force participation of married women in the Soviet Union: a household cross-section analysis.



Approximately 80% of women in the Soviet Union ages 15-54 years are employed outside the home. To identify the impact of demographic and economic variables on the high rate of labor force participation among Soviet women, data from an income survey of 1016 2-parent families of emigrants to Israel were analyzed. It was hypothesized that differences in participation rates among Soviet women correspond to differences in other sources of family income, wage rates and market conditions, level of education, and family household conditions, with response to changes in economic variables mediated by the role played by persuasion and social pressure in encouraging women to participate. Overall, 89.3% of the women in the sample were labor force participants. Nonparticipants were, as expected, from families with higher levels of other income. The personal qualifications of nonworking wives were considerably lower than those of working wives, with nonworking wives averaging 9.4 years of schooling compared with 13.2 years for working wives. Offered wages for working wives averaged 69 kopecks/hour in contrast to 40-50 kopecks/hour for nonworking women. A maximum-likelihood functional estimation of participation rates whoed significant coefficients for family income (negative), expected wages and education (positive), and residence in a large city (positive). The coefficients for residence in a medium-sized city, existence of a private plot, presence of nonworking men in the household, occupational status of the husband, and total number of children were insignificant. The supply of hours of work was backward-bending. The results suggest that Soviet women reach the decision to participate in the labor force through consideration of the same factors as their counterparts in nonsocialist countries. The analysis further indicates that, at present levels of fertility and exogenous conditions, the participation rate in the Soviet Union will not decrease. However, policies designed to raise the fertility level, including better facilities for children and more support for women who leave the labor force to raise young children, could ease labor force participation among soviet women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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