Social Capital and Women’s Labor Force Participation in Chile

Ismael Puga & Daniela Soto

Using data from Chile, this study analyzes the relationship between different forms of social capital and women’s labor force participation, accounting for both endogeneity problems and differences among women of different economic strata. First, the results suggest that only some types of social capital are relevant for labor force participation: namely, networks with weaker yet far-reaching connections, including higher-status individuals. There are neither empirical nor theoretical reasons to believe that women have better access to such networks than men. Second, this type of social capital is only relevant for the economic integration of the richest women, failing to increase labor force participation among women of the other 80 percent of households. Thus, this study concludes that policies targeted at women’s economic integration based on the presumption that women have more social capital than men are deeply flawed.

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