Journal of Population Research

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 63–90 | Cite as

Women’s employment, religion and multiculturalism: Socio-demographic emphasis

  • Yaghoob Foroutan


Giving the central focus to ‘religious affiliation’ which ‘was once at the forefront of demographic research (McQuillan 2004: 25), this paper examines the association between religion and women’s market employment. Generally speaking, gender characteristics such as high fertility and low employment levels for Muslim women in both intracountry and worldwide comparisons have been asserted in an extensive literature. The context, method and comparison groups of this study provide the opportunity to examine the longstanding debate as to whether religionper se or other determinants explain such gender characteristics in Islamic settings. It is, however, acknowledged that the present study faces limitations mainly associated with the selectivity of migrants. Using logistic regression and the multicultural context of Australia containing a substantially diverse ethnic composition of Muslims, this paper highlights Muslim/non-Muslim employment differentials. The paper also analyses the employment level of Muslim women across the regions of origin representing various contexts in order to provide empirical evidence to examine the above debate.


Women’s employment human capital assimilation religion cultural diversity Australia 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbasi-Shavazi, M.J. and G.W. Jones. 2005. Socio-economic and demographic setting of Muslim populations. Pp. 9–39. in G.W. Jones and M.S. Karim (eds),Islam, the State and Population. London: Hurst & Company.Google Scholar
  2. Adhikari, R. 2001. Muslims. Pp. 599–601 in J. Jupp (ed.),The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People, and Their Origins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ahmad, S. and L. Ruzicka 1988. Muslim fertility differences across countries. Paper presented to Seminar on Fertility Transition in Asia: Diversity and Change, Bangkok, March.Google Scholar
  4. Ahmed, L. 1992.Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Anker R. 1997. Theories of occupational segregation by sex: an overview.International Labour Review 136(3): 1–14.Google Scholar
  6. Anker, R., 1998.Gender and Job: Sex Segregation of Occupations in the World. Geneva: International Labour Organization.Google Scholar
  7. Anker, R. and M. Anker. 1995. Measuring female labour force with emphasis on Egypt, Pp. 148–176 in N.F. Khoury and V.M. Moghadam (eds),Gender and Development in the Arab World. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  8. Azzam, H., J. Abu Nasr and I. Lorfing. 1984. An overview of Arab women in population, employment and economic development. Pp. 5–37 in J. Abu Nasr, N.F. Khoury and H.T. Azzam (eds),Women, Employment and Development in the Arab World. Berlin: Mouton Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Baubock, R. 1996. Social and cultural integration in a civil society. Pp. 67–131 in R. Baubock, A. Heller and A.R. Zolberg (eds),The Challenge of Diversity: Integration and Pluralism in Societies of Immigration. Avebury: Ashgate Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  10. Becker, G.S., 1985. Human capital, effort, and the sexual division of labor.Journal of Labor Economics 3(1): 33–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Berry, J.W. 1992. Acculturation and adaptation in a new society.International Migration 30: 69–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Betts, K. and E. Healy. 2006. Lebanese Muslims in Australia and social disadvantage.People and Place 14(1): 24–42.Google Scholar
  13. Bloom, D. and A. Brender. 1993. Labour and the earning world economy.Population Bulletin 48(2): 1–32.Google Scholar
  14. Borjas, G.J., 1989. Economic theory and international migration.International Migration Review 23(3): 457–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Boserup, E., 1970.Women’s Role in Economic Development. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.Google Scholar
  16. Bouma, G.D. 1994.Mosques and Muslim Settlement in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  17. Brooks, C. and P.A. Volker. 1985. Labour market success and failure: an analysis of the factors leading to the workplace destinations of the Australian population. Pp. 43–75 in P.A. Volker (ed.),The Structure and Duration of Unemployment in Australia: Proceedings of a Conference. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  18. Caldwell, B. and Barkat-e-Khuda. 2000. The first generation to control, family size: a microstudy of the causes of fertility decline in a rural area of Bangladesh.Studies in Family Planning 31(3): 239–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Caldwell, J.C. 1986. Routes to low mortality in poor countries.Population and Development Review 12(2): 171–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Carens, J.H. and M. Williams. 1996. Muslim minorities in liberal democracies: the politics of misrecognition. Pp. 157–186. in R. Baubock, A. Heller and A.R. Zolberg (eds),The Challenge of Diversity: Integration and Pluralism in Societies of Immigration. Avebury: Ashgate Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  21. Carmichael, G.A. and P. McDonald. 2003. Fertility trends and differentials. Pp. 40–76 in S-E. Khoo and P. McDonald (eds),The Transformation of Australia’s Population: 1970–2030. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.Google Scholar
  22. Carr, M. and M. Chen. 2004. Globalization, social exclusion and gender.International Labour Review 143(1–2) 129–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Casterline, J.B., Z.A. Sathar and M. ul Haque. 2001. Obstacles to contraceptive use in Pakistan: a study in Punjab.Studies in Family Planning 32(2): 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Chamie, J. 1981.Religion and Fertility: Arab Christian-Muslim Differentials. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Chiswick, B.R. 1993. Soviet Jews in the United States: an analysis of their linguistic and economic adjustment.International Migration Review. 27(2): 260–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Clark, R., T.W. Ramsbey and E.S. Adler. 1991. Culture, gender, and labor force participation: a cross-national study.Gender and Society. 5(1): 47–66.Google Scholar
  27. Cleland, B. 2001. The history of Muslims in Australia. Pp. 12–31 in A. Saeed and S. Akbarzadeh (eds),Muslim Communities in Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  28. Collins, J. 1988.Migrant Hands in a Distant Land: Australia’s Post-War Immigration. Sydney: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  29. Desbarats, J. 1986. Ethnic differences in adaptation: Sino-Vietnamese refugees in the United States.International Migration Review 20(2): 405–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Dharmalingam, A. and S.P. Morgan. 1996. Womens work, autonomy, and birth control: evidence from two South Indian villages.Population Studies 50(2): 187–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Dharmalingam, A. and S.P. Morgan. 2004. Pervasive Muslim-Hindu fertility differences in India.Demography 41(3): 529–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Esposito, J.L. 1998. Introduction: women in Islam and Muslim societies. Pp. ix-xiv in Y.Y. Haddad and J.L. Esposito (eds),Islam, Gender, and Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Evans, M.D.R. 1984. Immigrant women in Australia: resources, family, and work.International Migration Review 18(4): 1063–1090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Evans, M.D.R. and J. Kelley. 1986. Immigrants work: equality and discrimination in the Australian labour market.Australia and New Zealand Journal of Sociology 22(2): 187–207.Google Scholar
  35. Evans, M.D.R. and J. Kelley. 1991. Prejudice, discrimination, and the labour market: attainments of immigrants in Australia.American Journal of Sociology 97(3): 721–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Fadel, M. 1997. Two women, one man: knowledge, power, and gender in medieval Sunni legal thought.International Journal of Middle East Studies 29(2): 185–204.Google Scholar
  37. Fargues, P. 2005. Women in Arab countries: challenging the patriarchal system?Reproductive Health Matters 13(25): 43–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ferdows, A.K. 1983. Women and Islamic revolution.International Journal of Middle East Studies 15(2): 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Foroutan, Y. 2007. Determinants of women’s employment participation: Muslim/Non-Muslim differentials in Australia. Ph. D. Thesis, Demography and Sociology Program, Research School of Social Sciences The Australian National University, Canberra.Google Scholar
  40. Foroutan, Y. 2008a. Gender and religion: the status of women in the Muslim world. In P.B. Clarke and P. Beyer (eds.),The World’s Religions: Continuities and Transformations. London: Routledge Publication. In press.Google Scholar
  41. Foroutan, Y. 2008b. Migration differentials in women’s market employment: an empirical and multicultural analysis.International Migration Review 42(3). In press.Google Scholar
  42. Foroutan, Y. Forthcoming. Employment differentials of Christian and Muslim Lebanese women in Australia: a comparative perspective.Australian Religion Studies Review.Google Scholar
  43. Friedberg, R.M. 2000. You can’t take it with you? Immigrant assimilation and the probability of human capital.Journal of Labour Economics 18(2): 221–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Gallagher, E. and M. Searle. 1983. Women’s health care: a study of Islamic society. Pp. 85–96 in J. Morgan (ed.),Third World Medicine and Social Change: A Reader in Social Science and Medicine. Lanham MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  45. Ghallab, M.E.-S. 1984. Population theory and policy in the Islamic world. Pp. 233–241 in J.I. Clark (ed.),Geography and Population: Approaches and Applications. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  46. Gilbertson, G.A. 1995. Womens labor and enclave employment: the case of Dominican and Colombian women in New York City.International Migration Review 29(3): 657–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hakim, C. 1996.Key Issues in Womens Work: Female Heterogeneity and the Polarisation of Womens Employment. London: Athlone.Google Scholar
  48. Hugo, G. 2000. Migration and womens empowerment. Pp. 287–317 in H.B. Presser and G. Sen (eds),Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Processes: Moving beyond Cairo. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Hull, T.H. 2005. Reproductive health trends in Islamic countries. Pp. 56–80 in G.W. Jones and M.S. Karim (eds),Islam, the State and Population. London: Hurst & Company.Google Scholar
  50. International Labour Organization (ILO). 2001.Key Indicators of the Labour Market 2001–2002. Geneva.Google Scholar
  51. Iredale, R. 1988.The Recognition of Overseas Qualifications and Skills. Canberra: Office of Multicultural Affairs.Google Scholar
  52. Jejeebhoy, S.J. and Z.A. Sathar. 2001. Women’s autonomy in India and Pakistan: the influence of religion and region.Population and Development Review 27(4): 687–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Jones, G. 2005. A demographic perspective on the Muslim world.Working Paper No. 42. Singapore: National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  54. Kabir, N. and R. Evans. 2002. Muslims and the Australian labour market, 1980–2001.Immigration and Minorities 21(3): 70–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Kelley, J. and I. McAllister. 1984. Immigration, socio-economic attainment, and politics in Australia.British Journal of Sociology 35(3): 387–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Khoo, S-E. and P. McDonald. 2001.Settlement Indicators and Benchmarks. Canberra: Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.Google Scholar
  57. Kirk, D. 1965. Factors affecting Moslem natality. Pp. 561–579 inFamily Planning and Population Programs: A Review of World Developments. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  58. Knodel, J., R.S. Gray, P. Sriwatcharin and S. Peracca. 1999. Religion and reproduction: Muslims and Buddhist Thailand.Population Studies 53(2): 149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Kossoudji, S.A. 1989. Immigrant worker assimilation: is it a labor market phenomen?Journal of Human Resources 24(3): 494–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Lehrer, E.L. 1995. The role of husbands religion on the economic and demographic behavior of families.Journal for Scientific Study of Religion 35(2): 145–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lehrer, E.L. 1996. Religion as a determinant of marital fertility.Journal of Population Economics 9(2): 173–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lehrer, E.L. 1999. Married womens labor behavior in the 1990s: differences by life-cycle stage.Social Sciences Quarterly 80(3): 574–590.Google Scholar
  63. Lehrer, E.L. 2004. Religion as determinant of economic and demographic behavior in the United States.Population and Development Review 30(4): 707–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Lucas, D. 1980. Fertility. Pp. 64–92 in D. Lucas, P. McDonald, E. Young and C. Young (eds),Beginning Population Studies. Canberra: The Australian National University.Google Scholar
  65. Lutz, W. 1987. Culture, religion, and fertility: a global view.Genus 43(3–4): 15–34.Google Scholar
  66. McAllister, I. 1986. Speaking the language: language maintenance and English proficiency among immigrant youth in Australia.Ethnic and Racial Studies 9: 24–42.Google Scholar
  67. McAllister, I. 1995. Occupational mobility among immigrants: the impact of migration on economic success in Australia.International Migration Review 29(2): 441–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. McDonald, P. 2000. Gender equity, social institutions and the future of fertility.Journal of Population Research 17(1): 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. McQuilan, K. 2004. When does religion influence fertility?Population and Development Review 30(1): 25–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Mishra, V. 2004. Muslim/non-Muslim differentials in fertility and family planning in India.East-West Center Working Paper No. 112, Population and Health Series. Honolulu: University of Hawaii.Google Scholar
  71. Moghadam, V.M. 1999. Gender and globalization: female labor and womens mobilization.Journal of World-System Research 5(2): 367–388.Google Scholar
  72. Morgan, S.P., S. Stash, H.L. Smith and K.O. Mason. 2002. Muslim and non-Muslim differences in female autonomy and fertility: evidence from four Asian countries.Population and Development Review 28(3): 515–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Obermeyer, C.M. 1992. Islam, women, and politics: the demography of Arab countries.Population and Development Review 18(1): 33–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Omar, W. and K. Allen. 1996.The Muslims in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  75. Omran, A.R. and F. Roudi. 1993. The Middle East population puzzle.Population Bulletin 48(1): 1–38.Google Scholar
  76. Rashad, H. 2000. Demographic transition in Arab countries: a new perspective.Journal of Population Research 17(1): 83–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Read, J.G. 2004. Cultural influences on immigrant women’s labour force participation: the Arab-American case.International Migration Review 38(1): 52–77.Google Scholar
  78. Riley, N.E. 1998. Research on gender in demography: limitation and constraint.Population Research and Policy Review 17(6): 521–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Roy, O. 2004.Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. London: Hurst & Company.Google Scholar
  80. Saeed, A. 2003.Islam in Australia. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  81. Shariati, A. 1971.Fatemeh Fatemeh Ast (Fatemeh Is Fatemeh). Tehran: Hoseinieh Ershad Press [in Persian].Google Scholar
  82. Siraj, M. 1984. Islamic attitudes to female employment in industrializing economies: some notes from Malaysia. Pp. 163–173 in G.W. Jones (ed.),Women in the Urban and Industrial Workforce: Southeast and East Asia. Canberra: The Australian National University.Google Scholar
  83. Sorensen, M. 1993. The match between education and occupation for immigrant women in Canada.Research Discussion Paper No. 102, Alberta: Population Research Laboratory, University of Alberta.Google Scholar
  84. VandenHeuvel, A. and M. Wooden. 1996.Non-English Speaking Background Immigrant Women and Part-Time Work. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  85. VandenHeuvel, A. and M. Wooden. 1999.New Settlers Have Their Say. Canberra: Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.Google Scholar
  86. Weeks, J.R. 1988. The demography of Islamic nations.Population Bulletin 43(4): 5–53.Google Scholar
  87. Wooden, M. 1994. The labour-market experience of immigrants. Pp. 227–292 in M. Wooden, R. Holton, G. Hugo and J. Sloan (eds.),Australian Immigration: A Survey of Issues. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  88. Yasmeen, S. 2004. Muslim women and human rights in the Middle East and South Asia. Pp. 161–182 in V. Hooker and A. Saikal (eds),Islamic Perspective on the New Millennium. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  89. Zurayk, H.C. and F. Saadeh. 1995. Women as mobilizers of human resources in Arab countries. Pp. 35–48 in N.F. Khoury and V.M. Moghadam (eds),Gender and Development in the Arab World. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesThe University of MazandaranBabolsar, Mazandaran ProvinceIran

Personalised recommendations