Women in Egypt have a long history of low economic empowerment. Specifically, they occupy less than one third of the labor force. Young women may enter the labor force as a means to secure the resources needed for a "good marriage" but drop out of the labor force upon marriage. Women also report low levels of influence in family economic decisions in national surveys. OBJECTIVES Using nationally representative panel data spanning 14 years for Egypt, we will assess the effects of a woman's age at first marriage on her economic empowerment, as indicated by her propensity to be engaged in market work after marriage and her influence in familial economic decisions. DATA The sample for this analysis includes approximately 2,340 women ages 15-35 years in 1998, who were interviewed in the Egyptian Labor Market Panel Survey (ELMPS) and were never married in 1998. The ELMPS, a 14-year national household panel study, collects detailed information on respondents'ages at first marriage, fertility history, labor force participation, time allocation to domestic ad subsistence labor, influence in family economic decisions, and assets brought to marriage. We also will use data from the ELMPS and repeated cross-national Demographic and Health Surveys spanning 20 years for Egypt (1988 - 2008) to construct aggregate indicators to reflect aspects of the local marriage market that preceded the time at which sample women were married. METHODS We will use community level measures of the unemployment rate among never married men, timing of marriage, assets brought to marriage, and cost of marriage as instrumental variable to estimate the effect of women's age at first marriage on levels and change in their propensity to engage in market work after marriage and their influence in family economic decisions. SIGNIFICANCE: Current evidence on the relationship between age at first marriage and women's economic empowerment is limited by a reliance on cross-sectional data and poor measures of women's labor force participation and its timing around marriage, assets brought to marriage, and influence in family economic decisions. Our study will overcome these gaps by using a rich panel data set covering a 14-year period with detailed measures for all constructs of interest. The results of our study will provide a more rigorous and systematic assessment of the extent to which delaying marriage for women may enhance various dimensions of their economic empowerment.
Egyptian women have a long history of low economic empowerment in the public and private spheres. Using three waves of data from the Egyptian Labor Market Panel Survey (1998, 2006, 2012), this project will assess the relationship between women's age at first marriage and their economic empowerment, specifically their propensity to be engaged in market work after marriage and the extent of their influence in family economic decisions. The results of our study will provide critical insights into the relationship between th timing of marriage and women's economic empowerment and will highlight ways to promote gender equality and empower women (Millennium Development Goal 3).