Immigration, gender, and labour force participation in Israel: an evaluation of the "double disadvantage" thesis

Uzi Rebhun, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This paper examines gender differences in labor force participation (LFP) among immigrants in Israel, and how these differences vary across origin groups. Analysis of the 1995 population census indicates that all else being equal immigrant women exert a negative effect on LFP. As time elapses, the probability of immigrant women to be employed improves but remains considerably lower than that of immigrant and native-born men. Nevertheless, immigrant women have closed the gap with native-born women and after a few years in Israel both groups have very similar probabilities to be employed. This observed convergence is robust holding both for working part of the year and year-around. A detailed analysis by country of birth suggests that immigrant women from the republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as those from several Latin American countries, had higher probabilities of employment than did native-born women. By contrast, immigrant women from Asian and African countries, as well as from the United States, had difficulty findings jobs relative to their native-born counterparts. This stratification holds also after refining the comparison of immigrant women to their native-born ethnic peers. Thus, while for some immigrant groups the patterns of LFP reflect a double disadvantage for women, other groups appear to have only the one disadvantage of being females. This stratification should be attached to cultural background and social values of country of birth as well as to economic and religious considerations not fully indexed by the census data.

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Presented in Session 18: Integration process of migrant population