The Impact of Marriage on Women's Employment in the Middle East and North Africa

Ragui Assaad, Caroline Krafft, Irene Selwaness

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7 Scopus citations


Marriage is a central stage in the transition to adulthood in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This article investigates the effect of marriage on women's employment in MENA, examining how different types of work are affected by relatively early marriage, defined as marriage by the median age of marriage. An important contribution of this study is to examine the two main mechanisms by which marriage can affect work: (1) its effect on ever entering work and (2) its effect on exiting work. This study endogenizes the marriage decision using an instrumental variables approach. It finds that marriage by the median age reduces women's probability of market work by 47 percent in Jordan, 30 percent in Tunisia, and 16 percent in Egypt. Much of the effect is due to a reduction in the probability of private wage work, which women tend to leave at marriage. HIGHLIGHTS Women in Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia often leave employment at marriage. Marrying by the median age has varying effects on different types of employment. Women are particularly likely to leave private sector wage work at marriage. Changes are needed to reconcile private wage employment with women's domestic roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-279
Number of pages33
JournalFeminist Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

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  • Economics of marriage
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • age at marriage
  • employment
  • gender
  • labor markets


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