Does the shift to markets impose greater hardship on women and minorities? Three essays on gender and ethnicity in Bulgarian labor markets
This dissertation examines changes in three indicators of ethnic and gender labor market inequality in the transition from central planning to a mixed-market economy in Bulgaria. A focus on changes in gender and ethnic wage gaps, occupational segregation by sex and ethnicity, and married women's labor force participation reveals the differential effects of major economic change on gender and ethnic groups. Changes in wage gaps are measured by the Juhn, Murphy, and Pierce (1991) decomposition. Changes in occupational segregation are measured by the L index (Spriggs and Williams, 1996), and a neoclassical model of labor supply is used to examine labor force participation changes. Women's labor market status improved in the early transition as indicated by a decline in the gender wage gap, and in the level of occupational segregation. Women attained as many years of schooling as men, but obtained more university education that experienced greater returns in the transition. Additionally, women worked in industries where nominal income and employment were growing. This trend may not, however, continue. Men are responding to an increased market demand for higher and more general education, and are moving from declining into growing sectors. Further, men have greater access to the growing private sector. Changes in the labor market status of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria were both positive and negative. Ethnic Turks experienced increasing wage differentials and, although the level of occupational segregation by ethnicity declined, it remained high. Married female ethnic Turks worked more, especially women over fifty. The ethnic Turks were less likely to have obtained general and university education, leading to less flexibility as they adapt to the market economy. Further, the ethnic Turks are not responding to changes in industrial demand as quickly as their ethnic Bulgarian counterparts. For various reasons, the ethnic Turks experience less labor market mobility. This may be due to the drastic decline in demand, the collapsed housing market, or rural networks on which they rely for basic life necessities.