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Amman

 | 
Jean Hannoyer
, 
Seteney Shami

Troisième partie. Population, famille et urbanisation

Implications of the Young Age Structure of the Female Labour Force in Amman

La main-d’œuvre féminine à Amman : Implications de sa structure par âge

Mary Kawar

Résumé

La forte participation des femmes de 20 à 30 ans au marché de la main-d’œuvre à Amman s’explique d’abord par la structure jeune de la population en général. Par ailleurs, la main-d’œuvre jordanienne est de plus en plus citadine et les nouvelles tendances de l’emploi affectent plus les femmes que les hommes. En abordant la classe d’âge des femmes de 20-30 ans, l’étude souligne leur participation proportionnellement plus importante par rapport aux femmes plus âgées et s’interroge sur les implications de ce fait pour l’avenir.

The high participation of women aged 20-29 in the labour force results partly from the generally young population structure of Jordan. Furthermore, the Jordanian labour force is increasingly urban and this applies even more to females than males. In studying the 20-29 age class in the female labour force, this paper underlines their high participation as compared to older women and looks at the implications such a fact might have for the future.

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

1This paper is concerned with the labour force participation of young women between the ages of 20-29 years in Amman. It aims to set apart the distinct dynamics of the participation patterns of young urban women in view of the generally low female participation rates in Jordan. This is because of the following reasons: first, the population growth rates in Jordan are so high that the age structure of the labour force is quite young. Second, the Jordanian labour force is characterized by an increasingly urban structure. This urban structure applies to the female labour force more than the male labour force. Third, female labour force participation has been consistently low, but a breakdown by age reveals that there is a disproportionately high participation by women between the ages of 20-29 years.

2Thus, the significance of this study arises in that it aims to focus on the majority of working females, those who are young and urban. It will attempt to reveal the following: first, whether participation patterns of women in young age groups differ from the participation of women in older age groups; second, the role of the urban labour market of Amman in determining this young age structure of the female labour force; and third, the future implications of the high rates of participation among young women in Amman.

3The following analysis depends primarily on the Jordanian Government’s "1991 Employment, Unemployment, and Poverty Survey". This descriptive analysis reveals some characteristics particular to young females in Amman. For example, besides their disproportionate participation rates, young working women have the highest levels of education and the highest unemployment rates as compared to the labour force in general. This exposes the acute need to further desegregate the participation patterns of this group of young working women from the total female labour force. It is most important to find out the

4occupational distribution of this group of young women as opposed to that of the female labour force in general which is concentrated in few occupational sectors. For if young females with these high levels of education are still concentrated in few occupational sectors, then this phenomenon of highly educated unemployed women will continue to increase. This may indicate that there is an increasing imbalance between the supply and demand of female labour. Furthermore, this may reveal that the urbanization process that has provided educational opportunities for females has not, in turn, facilitated work opportunities for them.

5The following paper is divided into two sections. The first section includes a brief description of the population and the labour force structure in Jordan; a socio-demographic description of working women in Amman; and an analysis of the economic characteristics of this group of working women. The second section is a focus on the unemployment problem in Amman. It will again review the social, demographic and economic characteristics particular to the unemployed in an attempt to identify how young females are affected.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE YOUNG FEMALE LABOUR FORCE IN AMMAN

Population Structure in Jordan

6Although this paper is specifically concerned with young women in Amman, it requires a review of the population structure and the labour force structure in Jordan. Population in Jordan has increased by sevenfold in the last four decades, from 576,000 in 1952 to 3.9 million in 1991. Urbanization has also increased from 60 % in 1979 to 78 % in 1991. Of the total population in Jordan, 63 % is concentrated in the central regions, which includes Amman, Zarqa and Salt, as opposed to the North or the South of the country.

7Moreover, the labour force in Jordan is increasing. Between 1979 and 1991, the growth rate of the labour force was 6.3 % which exceeded the population growth rates (3.4 %). This could be due to a number of factors, among them is the young age structure of the population that has joined the labour force; the increasing numbers of women in the labour force; the return migration of nationals from abroad; or the increase in formal sector employment as opposed to the informal sector.

8Probably as a result of these factors, 81.2 % of the Jordanian labour force is urban, concentrated mostly in Amman, Zarqa and Irbid, and 52 % of the labour force is below the age of 30 years. Of the total labour force in Jordan, 40.8 % is in Amman. Of those, 56 % are below the age of 30 years.

9As for the female labour force, participation rates have increased from 7.7 % to 13.4 % between 1979 and 1991. This increase is probably reflective of the young women that are joining the labour force. As for the specific participation of women in the city of Amman, there have generally been more work opportunities available for women compared to other cities in Jordan. Of the total female labour force, 45 % is concentrated in Amman compared to 40 % of the male labour force.

Demographic and Social Characteristics of the Labour Force in Amman

10Due to the expanding size and high population density of Amman, any survey represents the labour force in Amman more than any other area. Nevertheless, the following desegregation of the labour force by age, gender and marital status still highlights the characteristics particular of the young women workers in Amman.

Age Structure

11The age structure of the labour force in Amman reveals that the highest proportions among males and females are between 20 to 29 years. The rates for females in the age group 20-24 years and 25-29 years are higher than males at 37 % compared to 20.9 % and 25 % compared to 17 % (Table 1). In the following age groups, there is a sharp decline in the participation of females compared to the males. These figures are relatively representative of the age structure of the Jordanian labour force as a whole. However, for females there is a more obvious relation between the work force participation and age.

Marital Status

12In a breakdown of the marital status of the labour force by governorates in Jordan, it is found that the labour force in Amman has the highest concentration of single women and the lowest concentration of married women. Single women comprise 56.4 % of the labour force in Amman compared to 38.2 % who are married (Table 2). This is a distinct characteristic of Amman as in other governorates either the participation rates between married and single women are more or less evenly distributed, or, such as the cases of Kerak, Tafileh and Maan, the participation rates among married women are higher.

13On the other hand, the distribution of the male labour force by marital status and governorate reveals that the participation of single men in Amman is one of the lowest at 33.1 % while the participation rates among married men are one of the highest at 66.2 %. However, the overall distribution between married and single men is more or less consistent between the different governorates.

14Of the total labour force in the Amman governorate, 65 % of the females are single compared to 36.7 % of the males (Table 3). For the males, this is lower than the national average which is 38.6 % but it is higher than the national average for females which is 60.4 %. This is consistent with the fact that more single women work in Amman than in any other governorate. This raises the speculation whether there are more work opportunities available for single women than for married women in the Amman governorate.

15It is noteworthy here that in the last two decades, the age at marriage for males and females has been steadily increasing. In 1990 it was 27 years for males and 24.1 years for females. For females, this is a significant increase since in 1972, age at marriage was 17.9 years and in 1979 it was 21.3 years. The issue raised here is the relation between this increase in the age at marriage and the work force participation patterns of young females. More specifically, whether the high participation rates of single women in Amman, given the high concentration in population, is the cause for this increasing age at marriage.

Relation to Head of Household

16Relation to head of household reveals that most working women in Jordan, and particularly in Amman, are daughters living with their families. Of the labour force in Amman, 60.4 % are daughters compared to 39.1 % of the males who are sons. For the females, this is higher than the national average which is 54.9 % compared to the males which is equal to the national average of 39.2 % (Table 4).

  • 1 Mohamed Amerah et al.. Employment Opportunities for Women in the Jordanian Labour Market, Amman: Ro (...)

17These high rates among the female work force who are daughters is in congruence with the young age structure and with the high proportions of those who are single in the labour force. The question here is whether these young women will continue to work after marriage or whether they are temporarily in the labour force. In other words, are the high participation rates of this group of women an indicator of change in the participation patterns of females or is it quite the opposite? That is do single women predominate in the labour force because of obstacles that married women face in joining the labour force? For example, recent research has revealed that employers prefer single women as opposed to married women from the point of view that they have less domestic responsibilities1.

Distribution of Labour Force by Level of Education

18On the national level and in Amman, females have higher levels of education than males. On the national level, the highest rates are among females who have obtained community college diplomas followed by a bachelor degree. As for males, the highest rates are among those who have completed the preparatory level followed by the elementary level. This applies to the labour force in Amman where 42.1 % of the female labour force has a community college diploma and 21.2 % have a bachelor degree. As for the male labour force in Amman, 20.3 % have completed the preparatory level followed by the primary level at 17.4 % (Table 5).

19In the distribution of the labour force in Amman by age group, females have higher levels of education in almost all age groups. However, the differences become more obvious between males and females within the younger age groups. In the age group 20-24 years, 54 % of females have middle diplomas compared to 15.8 % of males and 16.8 % of the females have a bachelor degree compared to 5.7 % of the males. In the following age group, 25-29 years, 43.6 % of females have middle diplomas compared to 18.9 % of the males and 24.3 % of females have a bachelor degree compared to 16.1 % of the males (Table 6). This points to the direct relation between level of education and employment among females that is not apparent among the males. In fact, this relation is becoming even more important the younger the age group. This could become problematic, for the labour supply of an educated female work force among the young generation does not necessarily mean that there will be an equal labour demand.

20This section has revealed the connection between the social and demographic characteristics and the labour supply of a young, single and educated female labour force in Amman. The question here is whether this is directly linked to the urban social structure and the urban economy of Amman. It is a fact that educational opportunities are more readily available for women in Amman and that in an urban setting there are more pressing economic needs among young women to seek employment. As for labour demand, since certain economic sectors are larger in Amman, and since employers believe that women’s reproductive and domestic responsibilities conflict with their productivity at the work level, there is a high demand for young single female labour.

Economic Characteristics of the Labour Force in Amman

21This section aims to distinguish the participation patterns of young women in Amman, as compared to the participation patterns of women in other age groups, in order to determine whether changes are taking place. These changes can be seen through the examination of the major economic characteristics of the labour force in Amman by sex and by age group.

Distribution of Labour Force by Employment Status

22Amman has fewer proportions of employees and higher proportions of employers as compared to the national average. Nevertheless, the majority of the labour force in Amman are employees at 67.5 % for males and 75.4 % for females. This is followed by the self-employed at 18.1 % for males and 13.2 % for females (Table 7). The higher proportions of female employees, given their low participation rates, reveal their higher vulnerability to labour market demand. That is they are more at risk in labour market fluctuations.

Distribution by Main Activity Status

23The national average reveals that most males in the labour force work for the government at 37 % followed by the private sector at 20.1 %. The national average for females reveals that most females work for government at 36.1 % followed by those who are unemployed, who never worked, at 27.3 % (Table 8).

24In Amman, as compared to the national average, there is less participation among the males in the government sector, at 28 %, and more participation in the private sector, at 25 %. As for the females in Amman, there is less participation in the government sector at 31.9 %, and fewer unemployed who have never worked at 23.7 %. On the other hand, there is a much higher female participation in the private sector, at 29 %, as compared to the national average. It is of note that women’s participation in the private sector is consistently higher than that of the males. This is unlike the general assertions that women predominate in the government sectors.

25In a further desegregation of these figures by age group, the majority of males in the age group 20-24 years, 32.8 %, are in the government sector followed by 20.4 % who are in the private sector. The highest proportions of females in this age group are unemployed, who never worked at 45 %. This is followed by 29 % who are in the private sector and 13.7 % in the government sector. In the following age group 25-29 years, 29.3 % of males are in the private sector and 28.4 % are in the government sector while 42.4 % of females are in the government sector followed by 28.4 % who are in the private sector (Table 9). There is a sharp decline in the participation of females in the government sector between the two age groups. This reveals the impact of the contraction of this sector as a main employer in the past few years that seems to have affected females more than males.

26In the distribution of females by age group it is evident that the participation of females in the government sector is decreasing and that there is a slight decrease in the participation of women in the private sector. The most visible differences, however, are between those unemployed who have never worked as their numbers become negligent the older the age group. However this is consistent with the nature of female participation in Amman, as there are limited new entries into the labour market the older the age groups.

Distribution of Labour Force by Industrial Group

27The national average for the distribution of the work force according to industrial groupings reveals that most males and females are concentrated in the government and social services sectors followed by the trade and hotel sector.

28This also applies to the male and female labour force in Amman. However, for the males there is less concentration in the government and personal services sector in Amman at 30.7 % compared to the national average of 40.4 %. There is more concentration in the trade and hotel sector at 22.6 % compared to the national average of 17.7 %. For the females again there is less concentration in the government and personal services sector at 45.3 % compared to the national average of 55.4 % and more participation in the trade and hotel sector at 17.4 % compared to the national average of 13.7 % (Table 10).

29The sectoral distribution of the labour force by age group shows that young females are not diversifying into new sectors and that they remain within the bounds of the government and trade sectors followed by manufacturing. It is noticed that in the personal services sector there is a decline in the participation of females by age group. This applies to the health, education and government sectors as well. In the manufacturing sector, participation is highest among those below 20 years of age and those above 50 years. The sector where female participation seems to be increasing among the younger age group is in the trade and hotel sector only. As for the sectoral distribution by age group for males, it is noticed that participation rates are more or less consistent in most age groups except for a decrease in the government sector and an increase in the finance sector (Table 11).

30The above does not only mean that no new sectors are being opened for young women but also that there is a marked decline in what is considered as traditional female sectors such as health, education, personal services and government. In other words, the sectoral distribution of the urban labour market in Amman is becoming increasingly more segregated for young females. With the relative higher supply of young female labour in Amman compared to other age groups, this industrial distribution is an indicator of the obstacles these young women will be increasingly facing.

Distribution of Labour Force by Occupational Group

31It is most obvious that there is an inverse relation between the occupational distribution of males and females. There are more male production workers

32followed by technical and professional workers while there are more female technical and professional workers followed by production workers. This trend applies to both the total labour force, and to the labour force in Amman (Table 12).

33As for the distribution of the labour force by occupational and age groups, there seems to be an increase among female participation in production and a decrease in technical and professional and administrative occupations with the younger age groups. In the age group 20-24 years, 33.6 % are technical and professional workers and 33 % are production workers. In the following age group 25-29 years, 40.9 % are technical and professional workers followed by 25 % who are production workers (Table 13).

34However, this increasing participation in production and decreasing participation in administrative and technical and professional occupations also applies to males in the younger age groups. Thus, it can be deduced that this is a phenomenon among young workers in Amman irrespective of gender. This is probably due to the labour market opportunities opening up as a result of increasing industrialization in the city of Amman.

35If we take the occupational distribution of the labour force by level of education in Amman, the case of young women vis-à-vis young men arises as they have higher levels of education in most occupational groupings, particularly in production. Females in most occupational groupings have secondary education, middle diploma or bachelor degrees. As for males, there is a variation in educational levels in what seems to be in relation with the occupation group.

36For example, in the technical and professional occupations, most males, at 34.1 %, have bachelor degrees followed by middle diploma at 20.2 %. In the production sector, on the other hand, most males have preparatory education at 26.4 % followed by primary education at 24.4 %. If we compare this to females in the same occupational group we find that 41 % of females in professional and technical occupations have middle diploma and 34.7 % have a bachelor degree. In production, 35 % have a diploma and 21.1 % have secondary level education. Therefore, for the males there is a direct relation between the level of education and employment opportunities available which does not apply to females (Table 14).

  • 2 Employment Survey 1989, Amman: Departement of Statistics, Amman.
  • 3 ESCWA Regional Report, "Participation of Women in Food and Textile Manufacturing in Arab States", 1 (...)

37The increasing participation of females in production together with the higher level of education of females in this sector is also accompanied by high wage differentials between males and females. According to the “1989 Employment Survey”, the average monthly wage of females in production was 69 JD compared to 135 JD for males2. Wage differentials between males and females in the labour market exist in almost all sectors, but the highest is in the production sector. Furthermore, several studies have revealed that women remain within the low levels of hierarchy within production and they get fewer promotions and training opportunities3.

38A further in-depth breakdown of production occupations reveals the role of the labour market in determining this high participation of young educated females in low paid production jobs. Young women are not diversifying into new production occupations. In fact, they are concentrated in occupations which are considered suitable for them. For example, 46.7 % of females below the age of 30 years are engaged in sewing, clothing and related occupations. An exception where young females are more apparent than older females are the category “blacksmiths, hammersmiths and forging press workers” where 77.8 % are below the age of 30 years. This probably means that they are mostly press workers which is tedious and repetitive work, and is not a positive indicator in the diversification of female occupations within production.

39On the other hand, an analysis of the distribution of females in the technical and professional occupations reveals that women’s occupations are diverse. Thus, it can be deduced that the increase in the participation of females into segregated production areas is a labour market mechanism more than the nature of the supply of female labour. Furthermore, as work opportunities for young women increases in production, competition is likely to increase and wages remain low.

40In short, any future forecast of the labour market opportunities for young women seems to be blurred. With the higher education level among young women, labour market segregation is increasing. This seems to be a product of market demand for female labour because first, males are not suffering from increasing occupational segregation, and second, the labour market in Amman has been expanding and is expected to be able to absorb this diversifying supply of female labour.

Weekly Average Work Hours

  • 4 Mohamed Amerah et al., Employment Opportunities for Women in the Jordanian Labour Market, Amman: Ro (...)

41Employers usually assume that men are able to put in more work hours than women4. The majority of females in the labour force in Amman work 36 hours

42or less per week at 38 % compared to 27.8 % of the males. While the majority of males in the labour force work 49 hours or more at 37.5 % .

43This might seem in congruence with the general assertion that women put in less work hours than men. However, in the distribution of weekly average work hours by age group, it is revealed that the younger the age group, the more hours women work per week. In terms of gender differences, 29.7 % of women between the ages of 20-24 years work for more than 49 hours per week compared to 18.4 % of the males in the same age group. In the following age group, 25-29 years, 29.5 % of women work more than 49 hours per week compared to 16.8 % of males in the same age group. This differential does not only negate the allegation that women work less than men, but also indicates that the work patterns of the female labour force is changing the younger the age group.

UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG YOUNG FEMALES IN AMMAN

  • 5 Bassam Abu Amra, Major Characteristics of the Returnees, Amman: Ministry of Planning, 1993.

44The previous section leads this analysis to the problem of unemployment in Amman. In Jordan, Amman has the highest rates of unemployment at 41 %, followed by Zarqa at 22.5 % and Irbid at 20.4 %. Of course, these rates are reflective of the higher population concentration in Amman. However, there is a specificity to the unemployment problem in Amman. More than any other city in Jordan, Amman has always had an urban economy. This urban labour market has been expanding at a rapid pace. This has been particularly due to the centralization of services in the capital city as opposed to other cities. Thus, internal migration to the city has been caused by the fact that employment opportunities are much more available than in other cities. Furthermore, Amman was repeatedly susceptible to large and periodic population settlement as a result of regional instabilities. A recent example is the 200,000 returnees from the Gulf region after 1990 of whom more than 50 % settled in Amman5. These factors make the urban labour market in Amman much more volatile than in any other city. It could easily experience a boom, but it could just as well experience a recession, all of which has its bearing on unemployment.

45As for females, labour market opportunities have always been more available in Amman and there has always been a larger supply of female labour than anywhere else in Jordan. However, despite the greater employment opportunities, females are more vulnerable to unemployment than males. In Amman, unemployment rates for females stand at 30.3 % compared to 14.9 % for males. In the distribution of the unemployed by age group, young women are affected the most. In the following, an outline of the demographic, social and economic characteristics of the unemployed in Amman will further reveal the acuteness of this problem facing this group of young urban women.

Social and Demographic Characteristics of the Unemployed

Age Structure

46Data reveal that unemployment rates among the young age groups are higher for both males and females. Of the unemployed in Amman, 88.2 % of females and 60 % of the males are under the age of 30 years old. That represents more than three quarters of the unemployed females and more than half of the unemployed males in Amman. This could be due to reasons that are directly connected with labour market opportunities in Amman, primarily because young people predominantly seek employment in the formal sectors of the economy, unlike older generations, who could have other sources of income from either informal activities or agriculture (Table 15).

Marital Status

47In the distribution of the marital status of the unemployed labour force by governorate, Amman has the highest rates among those who are single, married, divorced and widowed. Among females, 40.2 % are single, 34.1 % are married, 62.5 % are divorced and 75 % are widowed (Table 16). These rates are reflective of Amman’s share of unemployment.

48Of the total labour force in Amman, 56.9 % of the unemployed males are single compared to 83.4 % of the unemployed females. For those who are married, 42.3 % of the males are unemployed compared to 13.4 % of the females (Table 17). For the males, this high ratio could mean that employers prefer to hire family breadwinners instead of single men. However, this does not apply to females as several studies have revealed that employers, in congruence with general gender ideology, prefer single women from the point of view that they have less domestic and reproductive responsibilities. However, given the fact that there is a strong relation between marital status and work force participation of women in Amman, these high unemployment rates, among those who are single, are reflective of the high participation of single women in terms of absolute numbers.

Relation to Head of Household

49Of unemployed males, 56.3 % are sons and 78.8 % of the unemployed females are daughters (Table 18). These high ratios for both males and females are a reflection of the young age structure of the unemployed in Amman, but again, the higher percentage for women reveals the direct relation between marital status and female employment.

Education Level of the Unemployed

50In general, unemployed females have higher levels of education than unemployed males. A high proportion of the unemployed males, 21.6 %, have preparatory education followed by 16.5 % who have secondary education. As for females, most of the unemployed, 52.8 %, have middle diplomas followed by 18.5 % who have secondary education. It is noticed that, among the males, there is a gradual distribution between the different levels of education. This is contrary to the females where the distribution is highly concentrated in the higher levels of education (Table 19).

51In the distribution of the unemployed by level of education and age group, 63.3 % of the females in the age group 20-24 years have middle diplomas compared to 23.2 % of males in the same age group and that 49.8 % of the females in the age group 25-29 years have middle diplomas compared to 21.7 % of the males (Table 20).Females have higher levels of education than males in older age groups as well. This is consistent with a characteristic noted earlier, that the female labour force is much more educated than the male labour force in Amman. However, the fact that the e is less unemployment among males in the higher levels of education than females raises the issue of labour market discrimination.

Economic Characteristics of the Unemployed

Distribution of the Unemployed by Employment Status

52Most of the unemployed males and females are employees, at 80.5 % for males and 82.3 % for females (Table 21). This is consistent with the total working labour force in Amman in general and may be one of the main reasons for these high unemployment rates that makes the unemployed vulnerable to labour market fluctuations.

Distribution of the Unemployed by Previous Activity Status

53Most of the unemployed males at 60.5 % have been previously employed while most of the unemployed females at 74.2 % have not been previously employed (Table 22). This leads to the conclusion that a large proportion of unemployed females in Amman are new graduates.

54In the distribution of the previous activity status of the unemployed by age group, it is noticed that both males and females in the age group, 20-29 years

55have not been previously employed. Among males, the rates decrease into negligible numbers the older the age group. Among females, there is a steady decrease the older the age group. As for those who are seeking employment and have been previously employed, the rates gradually increase by age among males and females but the disparity between males and females in the younger age groups is of significance (Table 23).

Distribution of the Unemployed by Industrial Group

56Most of the unemployed males are government workers at 24.4 % followed by 18.2 % in trade and hotel workers. This is consistent with the unemployed females where 24.3 % are in government and 13.2 % are in the trade and hotel sector (Table 24).

57In the distribution of the unemployed by industrial group and age group it is noticed that in the age group 20-24 years most unemployed females are concentrated in government at 20.6 % while the highest concentration of unemployment is in the trade and hotel sector at 26 %. In the following age group 25-29 years, most unemployed females are again concentrated in the government sector at 29.2 %. This also applies to males in the same age group but at the higher rate of 34.9 %. High unemployment rates in government persist among males and females in almost all the following age groups (Table 25).

58It is noteworthy that unemployment rates among females in health, education, and personal services sectors decrease in the younger age groups. In the supply of female labour, these lower unemployment rates in sectors considered traditional female sectors mean that there are changes occurring in the desired participation patterns among young females. Furthermore, there is a general consistency in the rates of distribution between males and females. Thus, it can be concluded that the higher rates of unemployment among young females are a function of market demand that seem to determine not only the nature of female employment, but consequently unemployment.

Distribution of the Unemployed by Occupational Group

59Most of the unemployed females are concentrated in technical and professional occupations at 37.5 % followed by production at 27.6 %. As for the males, more than half are in industrial occupations at 54.2 % followed by professional and technical occupations at 21.3 % (Table 26). This is in congruence with the occupational distribution cited earlier of the labour force in Amman in general.

60In the distribution of the unemployed by occupational and age group, certain characteristics for the young labour force appear. It is noticed that the younger the age group for males and females, the higher the rates appear to be in production occupations. Likewise, the younger the age group, the lower the rates in technical and professional occupations.

61As for gender differences of unemployment by age group, for those in the age group 20-24 years, 35.7 % of females are in production occupations closely followed by 31.6 % in technical and professional occupations. For the males, there is a sharp drop between those in production at 67.3 % followed by those in the technical and professional occupations at 31.6 %. In the following age group, 25-29 years, again there is a steady decrease among females where 35.5 % are in technical and professional occupations, followed by 27.3 % who are in clerical occupations and 23.6 % who are in production. On the other hand, most of the unemployed males are in production at 57.7 % followed by professional and technical workers at 23.1 % (Table 27).

62These figures reveal existing gender differences among the unemployed in Amman. The reasonably even occupational distribution of unemployed females as opposed to the high concentration of unemployed males implies that women can be absorbed more easily in the labour market. Nevertheless, unemployment rates among females are much higher than among males. Furthermore, the distribution of females in the labour force reveals that females tend to be concentrated in certain occupations more than males which is another indication that there is an imbalance between the supply and demand for female labour.

63An important point that should be raised here is that the above distribution by industrial or occupational group is specific for those who have been previously employed. It has been noted earlier that the majority of the unemployed females are those who have not been previously employed. Because of this, it is not possible to provide a definitive picture from such data because it is not known how those who have not been previously employed will affect this distribution by occupation or industry. For example, it is likely that those who have not been previously employed are seeking employment in highly segregated female sectors that can conflict with the above assertion that the high female unemployment rates are largely due to the nature of labour market demand.

CONCLUSION

64The issues and questions raised in this analysis of the young female labour force in Amman are several. They mostly pertain to an increasing imbalance between the supply and demand of the young female labour. Due to the descriptive nature of this paper, it has only been possible to speculate on the current nature and future trends of female participation in Amman. National

65level data used here, such as the “1991 Employment, Unemployment and Poverty Survey,” are important indicators but remain insufficient tools. On the other hand, micro-level research suffers in its attempt to generalize on any future forecast. Complementary analysis is vital in such cases. Thus, this paper has merely exposed the case of young working women in Amman. The aim was to highlight the need for further micro-level research in order to build a more holistic picture of changes occurring in the female labour force.

66The major points revealed through this analysis are:

  1. The young age structure of the female labour force in Amman should be viewed as a positive phenomenon in terms of the supply of female labour. However, this positive phenomenon is met with a highly segmented demand for female labour. It has been shown that the labour market supply of young women is not segmented yet labour market demand remains so. The issue here is that change in participation patterns among females is taking place but change in labour market demand is yet to be seen. Thus, the current situation of female employment in Amman is at a turning point but the direction is not clear. It could be a step forward with an increasing supply of female labour. Likewise, it could be a step backward with the persistence of gender segregation and discrimination in the labour market.

  2. More than in any other city in Jordan, a large majority of working women in Amman are single. This group of working women have distinct participation patterns. Single women work for longer hours. Their sectoral distribution is less segmented than the general female labour force. For example, they have high participation rates in the trade and hotel sector which is regarded as a male sector. Furthermore, single women suffer from the highest unemployment levels.
    The case of single working women in Amman is important because it indicates whether attitudes are changing towards female employment. The fact that they seem to work for longer hours, and in less traditional female sectors indicate that marital status is still closely linked with the patterns of participation among young women. This alludes to the likelihood that the participation of this group of women will change upon marriage. However, these distinct participation patterns are accompanied by an increase in age at marriage. Thus, the question that should be raised here is whether it is the work force participation of single women that is the cause of this increasing age at marriage. An important point is also the role of employers’ preference for single women. The persistence of these attitudes will only perpetuate this close relation between work and marital status among young women.

  3. The relation between education level and work force participation of young women seems to be closely linked. However, this relation is not apparent among the young male work force. This linkage between employment rates and education level among females is increasing: the younger the age group, the higher the education levels of working women. High education levels among young females vis-a-vis young men or women in older age groups does not necessarily reflect positively on their employment opportunities.
    In the occupational distribution of the female labour force it has been shown that women tend to be under-employed. Women with high levels of education are concentrated in occupations such as production. Furthermore, there are alarmingly high unemployment rates among young women with higher levels of education. If female employment continues to be closely linked with education this phenomenon of under-employed or unemployed educated young women will continue to increase.
    The issue of education policy should be raised here. The number of young women graduating with middle level diplomas is matched with high numbers of unemployed women with those degrees. Community level colleges have been increasing in Jordan and particularly in Amman. However, there seems to be no coordination between these colleges and labour market opportunities available. Female-only community colleges concentrate on teaching and social services professions. Training in skills which are in demand, such as skilled manufacturing labour, are rare. The end result is that young graduates will continue to face the problem of unemployment or underemployment.

  4. The high supply of young female labour in Amman in almost all occupational sectors is countered by a segregated demand in specific sectors. The participation of young women in traditional female sectors is not increasing. Simultaneously, female participation is not increasing in non-traditional female sectors. One exception to this is in manufacturing, where wage differentials between males and females are highest and women work in the lowest occupational ladders. This exposes a blurred picture for the future of female employment.

  5. The high unemployment rates among young women in Amman are another indication of an increasing imbalance between the supply and demand of female labour. It has been noted that female unemployment is a result of a discriminating labour market. The sectoral distribution of unemployed females, unlike male unemployment, is not segmented. Yet the sectoral distribution of the working labour force is segmented. Thus, the question raised here is whether the supply of female labour has indeed adapted to the sectoral structure of the urban labour market but faster than the adaptation of the labour demand which is reflective of the employers’ attitudes.

  6. The specificity of the urban labour market in Amman and its growth vis-à-vis future prospects for female employment is another issue. The increasing supply of young female labour in Amman is not sufficient to incur changes in the participation patterns of this new generation of young women. The pressing question here is can the urban labour market continue to function in a manner that will not absorb young female labour? And if so, whether the supply of female labour will continue to be at these high levels?

Acknowledgement

67I would like to thank Bassam Abu Amra, at the Ministry of Planning, for his statistical assistance. I would also like to thank Fatima Al-Manaa at ESCWA and Nadia Takriti at the Ministry of Planning for their comments on an earlier draft.

Table 1. Distribution of Labour Force by Age Group

Table 1. Distribution of Labour Force by Age Group

Table 2. Distribution of Labour Force by Geographical Distribution and Marital Status

Table 2. Distribution of Labour Force by Geographical Distribution and Marital Status

Table 3. Distribution of Labour Force by Marital Status and Sex

Table 3. Distribution of Labour Force by Marital Status and Sex

Table 4. Distribution of Labour Force by Relation to Head of Household and Sex

Table 4. Distribution of Labour Force by Relation to Head of Household and Sex

Table 5. Distribution of Labour Force by Level of Education

Table 5. Distribution of Labour Force by Level of Education

Table 6. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Age

Table 6. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Age

Table 7. Distribution of Labour Force by Main Activity Status

Table 7. Distribution of Labour Force by Main Activity Status

Table 8. Distribution by Relation to Labour Force

Table 8. Distribution by Relation to Labour Force

Table 9. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Age Group in Amman

Table 9. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Age Group in Amman

Table 10. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Sex

Table 10. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Sex

Table 11. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Age Group

Table 11. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Age Group

Table 12. Distribution Labour Force by Occupational Group and Sex

Table 12. Distribution Labour Force by Occupational Group and Sex

Table 13. Distribution Labour Force by Occupation Group and Age Group

Table 13. Distribution Labour Force by Occupation Group and Age Group

Table 14. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Occupation Group and Level of Education

Table 14. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Occupation Group and Level of Education

Table 15. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Age Group

Table 15. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Age Group

Table 16. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force by Govemorate and Marital Status

Table 16. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force by Govemorate and Marital Status

Table 17. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Marital Status and Sex

Table 17. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Marital Status and Sex

Table 18. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Relation to Head of Household

Table 18. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Relation to Head of Household

Table 19. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Sex

Table 19. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Sex

Table 20. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Age Group

Table 20. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Age Group

Table 21. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Main Activity Status

Table 21. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Main Activity Status

Table 22.Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Relation To Labour Force

Table 22.Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Relation To Labour Force

Table 23. Distribution Labour Force by Relation to Labour Force and Age

Table 23. Distribution Labour Force by Relation to Labour Force and Age

Table 24. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group

Table 24. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group

Table 25. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Age

Table 25. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Age

Table 26. Distribution of the Unemployed in Amman by Occupation Group

Table 26. Distribution of the Unemployed in Amman by Occupation Group

Table 27. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Occupation Group and Age Group

Table 27. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Occupation Group and Age Group

Notes

1 Mohamed Amerah et al.. Employment Opportunities for Women in the Jordanian Labour Market, Amman: Royal Scientific Society, 1990.

2 Employment Survey 1989, Amman: Departement of Statistics, Amman.

3 ESCWA Regional Report, "Participation of Women in Food and Textile Manufacturing in Arab States", 1993 (Arabic). Hussein Shakha.reh, The Role of Jordanian Women in Industry, Amman: Ministry of Planning, 1993.

4 Mohamed Amerah et al., Employment Opportunities for Women in the Jordanian Labour Market, Amman: Royal Scientific Society, 1990.

5 Bassam Abu Amra, Major Characteristics of the Returnees, Amman: Ministry of Planning, 1993.

Table des illustrations

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Titre Table 1. Distribution of Labour Force by Age Group
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Titre Table 2. Distribution of Labour Force by Geographical Distribution and Marital Status
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Titre Table 3. Distribution of Labour Force by Marital Status and Sex
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Titre Table 4. Distribution of Labour Force by Relation to Head of Household and Sex
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Titre Table 5. Distribution of Labour Force by Level of Education
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Titre Table 6. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Age
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Titre Table 7. Distribution of Labour Force by Main Activity Status
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Titre Table 8. Distribution by Relation to Labour Force
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Titre Table 9. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Age Group in Amman
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Titre Table 10. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Sex
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Titre Table 11. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Age Group
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Titre Table 12. Distribution Labour Force by Occupational Group and Sex
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Titre Table 13. Distribution Labour Force by Occupation Group and Age Group
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Titre Table 14. Distribution of Labour Force in Amman by Occupation Group and Level of Education
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Titre Table 15. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Age Group
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Titre Table 16. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force by Govemorate and Marital Status
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Titre Table 17. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Marital Status and Sex
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Titre Table 18. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Relation to Head of Household
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Titre Table 19. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Sex
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Titre Table 20. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Level of Education and Age Group
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Titre Table 21. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Main Activity Status
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Titre Table 22.Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Relation To Labour Force
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Titre Table 23. Distribution Labour Force by Relation to Labour Force and Age
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Titre Table 24. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group
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Titre Table 25. Distribution of the Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Industrial Group and Age
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Titre Table 26. Distribution of the Unemployed in Amman by Occupation Group
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Titre Table 27. Distribution of Unemployed Labour Force in Amman by Occupation Group and Age Group
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