Information and Communication Technologies and Feminization U Hypothesis: Empirical Analysis for Turkey

Information and Communication Technologies and Feminization U Hypothesis: Empirical Analysis for Turkey

Gülsüm Akarsu
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6620-9.ch001
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The use and dissemination of information and communication technologies contribute to the socio-economic development of countries. Due to information and communication technology improvements, remote working can help to engage different social groups in the labour force. This chapter aims to analyse the effect of information and communication technologies on women's participation in the labour market, considering other essential factors and testing the validity of the Feminization U hypothesis. For the analysis, the author employed panel data on 12 regions of Turkey over 2013-2020. Findings indicate that female internet usage increases women's participation in the labour market, and the Feminization U hypothesis is invalid. Policymakers should develop measures to improve information and communication technologies services to encourage female labour force participation.
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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have spread rapidly all over the World during the last 30 years (Valberg, 2020). For example, as shown in Figure 1, the percentage of internet users in the world population has increased from 0.05% in 1990 to nearly 60% in 2020 globally (The World Bank, 2022a). The use and dissemination of ICTs contribute to the socio-economic development of countries through providing rapid information dissemination, easy access to information, cross-border knowledge, and technology transfer, creating job opportunities, increasing productivity, enabling online services related to education, health, finance, and government, among many others and remote working style-based employment opportunities, digitalising economy, and globalising skills (Tüzemen, Barış-Tüzemen, & Çelik, 2021; Valberg, 2020; Watson, Corliss, & Le, 2018). Remote working has been widely discussed not only starting with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic but because of technological improvements which has made it possible. However, the discussion has intensified following the pandemic. Due to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) improvements, remote working can help engage different social groups in the labour force. One such group is women. In societies, social norms, the structure of the country, and gender-based labour division may impede women's active involvement in formal economic activities in addition to many other factors (Tüzemen et al., 2021). ICT use can increase female labour force participation (FLFP) by reducing the effect of these social, cultural, and religious obstacles, removing time and mobility constraints, and increasing productivity and output (Valberg, 2020; Watson et al., 2018). It can also reduce the impact of glass ceilings by providing innovative solutions for better positions related to women's employment and, therefore, ensure gender-balanced career development and fewer earning inequalities (Brussevich et al., 2018). There are many benefits of ICT use that induce engagement of women in the labour force, such as easy information access, job creation, lower transaction costs, and promotion of inclusiveness, transparency, flexibility, and innovation in the labour market (Ngoa & Song, 2021; Suhaida, Nurulhuda, & Yap, 2013; Valberg, 2020). However, in many G20 countries, there is evidence of a significant digital gender gap which limits benefits obtained from digitalisation and ICT use (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2018).

Figure 1.

Percentage of individuals using the internet in the population and female labor force participation (FLFP) rate

Source: Own construction using data from World Bank World Development Indicators (The World Bank, 2022a, 2022b)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Feminisation U Hypothesis: Hypothesis showing the U-shaped relation between women's participation in the labour market and economic growth in such a way that as economies grow, female labour force participation declines in the industrialised economies; however, as economies become service sector-oriented, then women's participation increases in the labour market.

Digital inclusion: All activities guarantee equal access to and use of information and communication technologies to participate in digital economic and social services and activities.

Economics of Marriage: Analysing the marriage-related issues using economic analysis methods starting with Becker’s (1973 , 1974 ) seminal theory of marriage.

Information and Communication Technologies: The combination of computing and communication hardware and software technologies which are used to acquire, process, disseminate, retrieve, store, transmit, and manipulate information digitally and form electronic input and includes a heterogeneous set of techniques, systems and devices or electronic platforms, intelligent machines and computer networks, for example, the radio, television, telephones, mobile phones, computers, Internet, wireless networks, software, and all digital media applications. Various areas employ these technologies, such as education, health, public services, and libraries.

Glass Ceiling: A term coined by Marilyn Loden in 1978 for the discrimination against women in their career advancements. In a broader context, it refers to difficulties and invisible barriers, such as social barriers, including norms and biases, preventing minorities’ promotion to higher management positions in their jobs.

Theory of Investment in Human Capital: Analysing the effect of various investments related to human capital, such as education and health, on the well-being of individuals, for example, future income and consumption. There are multiple views on the usefulness of human capital, such as the views of Becker, Gardener, Schultz/Nelson-Phelps, Bowles-Gintis and Spence.

Panel Data Analysis: Statistical analysis using panel data which is two-dimensional data obtained by collecting observations on the set of cross-sectional units over time.

Gender Digital Divide: A term used to reflect gender differences in the usage of digital technologies. In most cases, digital technology usage by women is lower than men.

Female Labour Force Participation: The percentage of women in the total labour force shows the activeness degree of women in the available labour supply for producing goods and services in the economy.

Theory of Time Allocation: In the model introduced by Becker (1965) , under budget and time restrictions, the utility maximisation of consumers is realised with choices on commodities produced by using market goods and time. The model was further improved by DeSerpa (1971) and Evans (1972) , considering additional restrictions and redefinition of commodities.

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