Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications Explaining low employment rates among older women in urban China

Explaining low employment rates among older women in urban China

IFS Working Paper W16/24

In China, the employment rate among middle-aged and older urban residents is exceptionally low. For example, 27% of 55-64-year-old urban women were in work in 2013, compared to more than 50% in UK, Thailand and Philippines. This paper investigates potential explanations of this low level of employment in urban China. I document the stylized fact that a majority of individuals stop working as soon as they qualify for a public pension, which most often happens at age 50 for women. I also highlight the presence of signi cant amounts of financial and time transfers between generations. I provide descriptive evidence that transfers from children are responsive to parental incomes, and that mother's labour supply is aff ected by the expectation of transfers from her children. I then built and calibrate a life-cycle model of labour supply and saving. I fi nd that both the pension system and transfers from children have large eff ects on female labour supply. Increasing the female pension age from the status-quo to 60 would raise the employment rate of 50-59 year old women by 28 percentage points.