Labor force participation

The ratio of the population in the labor force (employed, self-employed or unemployed and normally above 16 years of age) to total population.

This is an important area of study as it may be possible to explain why certain groups are employed in specific sectors.

One of the most significant changes has been the growth of women’s participation in the workforce (determined as over 15 years of age), which rose from 40 per cent of the total workforce in the mid-1960s, to 58 per cent in 1990 (Samuelson and Nordhaus).

Wage-rates, changing attitudes to working women, education, later marriages, and lower birthrates have all affected the level of female labor force participation.

Also see: dual labor market theory

P Samuelson and W D Nordhaus, Economics (Mcgraw-Hill, 1992), 234;
W G Brown and T A Finegan, The Economics of Labor Force Participation (Princeton, N.J., 1969)

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