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Natalija Novta and Joyce Wong

be used more efficiently and productively outside the home. As women become more educated—and the share of women with a college education now exceeds that of men in several LAC economies—their productivity at work becomes ever higher, as do the potential losses to GDP growth if they remain outside of the labor force. Countries in LAC have made momentous strides in increasing female LFP, especially in South America. And while the female LFP rate has traditionally been very high for some countries—for example in the Caribbean— gender gaps still exist throughout the

Natalija Novta and Joyce Wong
Women across the world remain an underutilized resource in the labor force. Participation in the labor force averages around 80 percent for men but only 50 percent for women – nearly half of women’s productive potential remains untapped compared to one-fifth for men. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), as a region, saw the largest gains in female labor force participation (LFP) in the world during the last two decades. Women in LAC are becoming increasingly active in paid work, closing the gap with men and catching up to their counterparts in advanced economies at an impressive rate. In this paper, we document the recent trends in female LFP and female education in the LAC region, discuss the size of potential gains to GDP from increasing female LFP and policies which could be deployed towards this goal.
Natalija Novta and Joyce Wong

Front Matter Page Western Hemisphere Department Contents I. Introduction II. Trends in Female and Male Labor Force Participation III. Development Level and Labor Force Participation IV. Education, Age, and Female LFP V. Policies that could Raise Female LFP A. Effective policies: women’s legal rights and education B. Effective policies: childcare subsidies and parental leave VI. Macroeconomic Impact of Increasing Female LFP VII. Female LFP During Economic Downturn VIII. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations IX. References

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Female Labor Force Participation in Costa Rica 1 Despite the high educational attainment of women in Costa Rica, its female labor force participation (LFP) rate lags behind those of LA5. Using both evidence from household surveys and cross-country data, this note examines the determinants of female labor force participation and the factors behind low female LFP rate in Costa Rica. Income and education levels, presence of children in the household, physical and informational access to jobs as well as labor market efficiency are important determinants of

Anna Ivanova, Jaume Puig, Victoria Valente, and Joyce Wong

points higher than for women ( Figure 3.1 ). 1 With male LFP broadly in line—though in some cases higher—than in more advanced Latin American economies, low female LFP is the main driver of these large gender gaps in the CAPDR labor force. Figure 3.1. Labor Force Participation, Unemployment, and Informal Employment Rates Source: World Bank. Note: LA5 = Latin America 5; LAC = Latin America and the Caribbean; MENA = Middle East and North Africa; SSA = sub-Saharan Africa. For convenience, references to Central America refer to the IMF subregion Central

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.