The contribution of girls’ longer hours in unpaid work to gender gaps in early adult employment: Evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam

Fiona Carmichael, Christian Darko, Shireen Kanji, Nicholas Vasilakos

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Across many countries, girls perform more unpaid work than boys. This article shows how the time young women and girls spend in unpaid household work contributes to the gender pay gap that is already evident by age 22. The study analyzes employment participation, type of employment, and wages using five waves of the Young Lives longitudinal survey for Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. Spending longer hours in unpaid household work in adolescence positively predicts later employment participation but has a scarring effect in negatively predicting job quality (that is a job with a private or public organization) and hourly earnings, particularly for women. Blinder–Oaxaca decompositions of the gender wage gap show young women’s penalty for past household work is due to longer hours of such work rather than a higher penalty for women for a given amount of unpaid work.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminist Economics
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2022


  • Young adults
  • gender inequality
  • gender wage gap
  • life course
  • unpaid household work

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