Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2000


Using a cross-country dataset and microdata from India and Thailand, we examine how women's work status changes with economic development. Several clear patterns emerge: women's labor force participation first declines and then rises with development; women move from work in family enterprises to work as paid employees; fertility declines; and gender gaps in education narrow. Women's education levels, and those of their spouses, appear to be important determinants of women's labor market activities. Broad welfare indicators, such as mortality rates and education levels, indicate that women's well-being improves on average with development, both in absolute terms and relative to men.


This paper was originally published in:

Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(4): 141-164.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.4.141



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