First Advisor

Deborah A. Howe

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Poor women -- Employment -- Jordan -- Amman



Physical Description

4, x, 186 leaves 28 cm.


This study addresses the determinants of women's economic activity in three low income communities in Amman, the capital of Jordan. These communities represent what is typically referred to as "pockets of urban poverty." Besides addressing the demographic and socio-economic variables, the study identifies and includes cultural variables in a model of female labor force participation. Modern economic systems developed definitions and measurements of productivity that render the majority of women's work as non-productive. Activities within the domestic sphere that do not earn monetary returns are not measured as productive economic activities, and hence are dropped from the calculations of gross national and domestic products of most if not all developing nations. In the Arab Middle East, where women's work outside the home is relatively a recent phenomenon, labor statistics are measuring only female labor force in the "formal sector" of the labor market. The scope and magnitude of women's economic activity within the domestic sphere, or in what is termed the informal sector, is neglected, or at best, underestimated, by labor force statistics. In such cultural contexts where women's economic activity outside the home is still considered secondary to the array of their reproductive and home-related activities, the underlying thesis is that cultural factors play an important role in shaping the outcomes of women's decisions regarding labor force participation. A field survey covered the sample of adult women, aged 15 years and over. To achieve a 95% level of significance, 435 women were interviewed. Three field surveyors were trained to thoroughly probe and depict all types of economic activity for the purpose of raising cash, be it in the formal or the informal sectors of the labor market. A nested logit model assesses the effects of demographic and socio-economic variables on women's employment status. Employment status is defined as a dichotomous dependent variable indicating whether a woman does or does not work. The second step of the logit model incorporates cultural variables in addition to the demographic and socio-economic variables. Each logit run segregates women by marital status, and one run addresses the pooled sample of women, with marital status included as a predictor variable. The results indicate that age and marital status (in the pooled sample) are important variables in determining the employment status of women. The presence of a resource person to help the ever-married woman in child-care also had a significant effect on women's employment decisions. Household income, which represents the need for the woman's income, is also a significant variable. In the second step of the nested logit model, education significantly influences women's work outside the home. Segregation (a cultural variable that represented a constraint to women's work in a mixed environment) is also a significant variable in influencing women's work inside the home. This study shows that when addressing the determinants of female labor force participation, it is important to include cultural variables and assess their effect on influencing the outcome of women's decisions to undertake economic activity. Policies that seek to increase female employment need to be aware of the cultural and demographic (fertility related) considerations. Consequently, employment creation and enhancement programs need to be formulated and designed with this consideration in focus. For example, child-care facilities could be established within communities. This will free sometime of mothers with children to work outside the home, and will create child-care jobs within the community. Realizing that, due to cultural barriers, some women will still desire to only work at home, agencies providing marketing channels for such activities need to be established.


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