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Determinants of Women's Employment in Urban Nigeria: the Impact of Socio-Cultural Factors1

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This paper examines the determinants of women's employment in Nigeria, by focusing in particular, on the impact of socio-cultural factors such as ethnicity, religion, age at marriage, age difference between spouses, and family structure. Data are drawn from the 1988 National survey of 10,266 women in nine major cities of Nigeria, and logistic regression models are used to estimate whether or not a woman was employed during a five-year period. After controlling for other variables, findings indicate that: (i) the higher the age at marriage, the more likely that women are to be employed; (ii) Moslems are significantly less likely to be employed than Christians; (iii) the larger the age gap between husband and wives, the less likely women will be employed; (iv) women in both the extended family households and polygynous unions are more likely to be employed than those in nuclear and monogamous unions; (v) women in both the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups are significantly more likely to be employed than their Hausa counterparts; and (vi) a higher level of education and use of contraception increase the likelihood that women are employed. The results suggest that an expansion of educational opportunities, later marriages, and promotion of contraceptive use are needed in order to increase women's labor force participation, and consequently, improve women's status in Nigeria.


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