Globalisation, gendered migration and labour markets
The research report explores why there are increasingly more women than men in New Zealand and what impact this may be having on the labour market.
In New Zealand, in all age groups under 20, and in key working age groups, historically there have been more men than women. However, census data indicate that the number of New Zealand women residents relative to men in the broad 20-49 age group has been increasing since the 1980s.
The study indicated that differences in mortality between males and females at ages between 20 and 49 years makes a small contribution to the numerical imbalance between the sexes, that over recent decades migration both in and out of New Zealand plays an important but quite complex role, and that undercount may be more important than previously considered.
In theory, a shortage of males in key couple forming age groups may lead to more women not having a (male) partner and relatively fewer unpartnered men, which may reduce fertility, and may lead to an increase in female employment. New Zealand data show that over the long term more women are either living on their own or are sole parents, female employment has increased and fertility has declined. However, this trend is evident in all countries, regardless of the prevailing sex ratios.
While unlikely to be a key driver of behaviour, the recent changes in sex ratios, in absolute terms but more importantly educationally, are likely to support some continued growth in female employment and women living on their own. They are also likely to make it more difficult to support fertility rates at, or above, replacement rates. In addition, given the greater propensity for women to marry ‘down’ educationally, women’s increased bargaining power within couple households over issues such as childcare may mean that negotiating work-life arrangements with their employers becomes more important for men in the future.
Author: Paul Callister, Richard Bedford and Robert Didham
- See all publications by Paul Callister
- See all publications by Richard Bedford
- See all publications by Robert Didham
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