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Countries that kept women engaged in labour force during the pandemic will rebound faster

June 18, 2021

The benefits of female labour participation have been well documented over the years, particularly related to the positive impacts on growth, economic productivity, rates of return on capital and currency performance.

Countries that made the greatest strides to ensure that women remained attached to the labour market during the pandemic will be the ones best equipped to post a durable post-crisis economic recovery.

The world’s labour participation rate (labour force divided by total working-age population), has been on a decline over the last few decades. That, of course, is not surprising amid an aging population. But some economies have been more successful than others in managing those demographic changes by integrating more women into the workforce. High-income countries — defined by the World Bank as economies in which 2019 Gross National Income per capita was $12,536 or more — have been particularly successful on that score, registering an increase in female labour force participation and a corresponding decline in the gender gap. That contrasts sharply with middle income or low-income countries, which have struggled to integrate women in the workforce, hampered either by cultural norms or inadequate government policies.

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