Inequality in a More Equal World—Labor Market Gender Gaps in St. Lucia


Hyunmin Park ; Swarnali A Hannan

Publication Date:

June 14, 2024

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St. Lucia has enviably high female labor force participation rate and strikingly low participation gap vis-à-vis male. The latter is lower than OECD average and way below world average. Women are also more educated than men. Yet, using a micro dataset of St. Lucia Labor Force Survey over the period 2016-2021, our analysis points towards disproportionate effects of childcare on female participation and unemployment and a substantial gender gap in labor income for workers without higher education. Moreover, the income gap is not explained by observable worker characteristics. While the paper does not explore causal links, this unique feature of high female participation and, yet, considerable gender gaps in other dimensions could be due to the social, historical, and political structure that resulted in a matrifocal but not a matriarchal system. At the same time, the small gender gaps for workers with higher education across participation, unemployment, and labor income seem to suggest that women can overcome some barriers through education. Our results bring to the fore two crucial aspects related to gender studies: (i) While macroeconomic indicators like female labor participation rate are important tools, they are not always sufficient to capture progress in gender equality; and (ii) econometric analysis needs to be complemented with a more holistic understanding of the history and social context shaping deeply rooted gender traits.


Working Paper No. 2024/117





Publication Date:

June 14, 2024



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