Using data from the Jordanian Labor Market Panel Survey 2010 (JLMPS), this paper aims at investigating the differences in labor force participation among men and women. Not only is female labor force participation rate in Jordan very low, but it also appears to have been relatively stagnant over the past decade. This is a seemingly paradoxical finding given the rapid rise in female educational attainment in Jordan. The only way to resolve such a paradox is to have dropping participation rates among educated women over time, that are counteracted by an improving educational composition to produce flat participation rates. We argue in this paper that this is in fact what is happening in Jordan and that the decline in participation among educated women is due to a deteriorating opportunity structure in the Jordanian labor market. With the curtailment of public sector hiring in Jordan since the mid 1980s, opportunities for educated women are becoming scarcer. The main contribution of this paper is therefore to document these trends with recent data and show through careful analysis the way in which women’s employment prospects are shaped by education and marriage and the way in which these prospects have narrowed dramatically in recent years.
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