Laura Ravazzini

Thèse de doctorat

“Female labour force participation and dynamics of income inequality in Switzerland, from 1990 to 2013”

Objet de la recherche : 

This thesis links female labour force participation and its causes with consequences for income inequality at the household level. This study combines these two important macro indicators, namely female labour force participation and income inequality, and investigates their dynamics in the Swiss context from 1992 to 2014.

In the first part of the thesis, attention is placed on the determinants of female labour force participation at the macro and micro level. At the micro level, wages and income of women and their partners are studied as main determinants of women’s labour supply. These classical determinants are paired with socially constructed ideologies identified through gender role attitudes towards work and family. At the macro level, contextual variables are either included in the background to identify the socio-political context where women live or examined more in detail to determine their influence on women’s labour supply. The first article of this thesis examines the effects of the expansion of childcare provision at the cantonal level with respect to maternal and paternal labour supply, while the second article of this thesis includes taxes and benefits, child-care costs, and culture as contextual variables in a joint labour supply model of women and their partners.

In the second part of the thesis, the focus shifts towards household income inequality. The third and last article of this thesis investigates how the increase in female labour force participation affects household income inequality in Switzerland. The analysis distinguishes between different income sources and household types, including both couples and singles.

All articles focus not only on the extensive participation of women on the labour market, but also on the intensity of this participation in terms of part-time rates.

This thesis is based on the Swiss Labour Force Survey (1992-2014) and on the Swiss Household Panel (2000-2014). Each article is built on a specific methodology. The first article identifies the effect of family policy reforms that were introduced at the beginning of the 2000s and uses a difference-in-differences estimation. The second article explores the impact of economic and attitudinal endowments of women and their partners with respect to women’s labour supply building a discrete labour supply model. The third article investigates the consequences of the expansion in female labour force participation for household income inequality through index decompositions and counterfactual analyses.

Results identify a small but significant impact of the expansion of childcare provision on mothers’ high part-time rates. No effects are found for paternal employment. Men play an important role for women’s labour supply as partners influence women’s decisions both through their economic and their attitudinal endowments. This income effect is particularly relevant for home-oriented women who feel strong moral pressures to stay home and perform childcare. In Switzerland, the total increase of female labour force participation contributed to keep household income inequality low. This effect was mainly due to the reduced variability in women’s wages.     

Collaborateur(s) et institut(s) associé(s) :

Prof. Christian Suter, directeur de thèse, Institut de Sociologie (UNINE) ; Dr. Ursina Kuhn, collaboratrice, Swiss Foundation for Research in Social Sciences Lausanne (FORS)

Source(s) de financement actuellement FNS, précédemment assistanat pour 3.3 ans

Durée prévue : 2013-2018

Collaboratrice scientifique


Institut de sociologie
Faubourg de l'Hôpital 27
2000 Neuchâtel
Bureau 204
Tél. +41 32 718 14 18
Courriel Laura Ravazzini

Intérêts de recherche

  • Inégalités économiques et analyses de revenu et de richesse
  • Participation féminine au marché du travail
  • Qualité de vie