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Exploring the changing structure of Latin American labor markets with a gender perspective

December 13, 2021

  Irene Brambilla, Andrés César, Guillermo Falcone, Leonardo Gasparini


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*The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors. This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.


Using household surveys’ data for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru between the mid-2000s and the late-2010s, this document characterizes the changing structure of the labor market focusing on the gender dimension. It follows the task-based approach and create indexes of routine task content (RTC) using data from the PIAAC-OECD surveys.

The authors’ find that during the period under study there was a relative increase in the employment share of occupations with lower RTC, which was mainly driven by movements in the female occupational structure, especially for the group of young-age and middle-age workers. Wage increases were relatively higher for routine occupations, and this was more pronounced for males than females. While on average there was a modest reduction in the gender wage gap, gains were relatively larger for less routine occupations like managers, professionals and clerical jobs. As the current division of tasks in the labor market continues to assign a larger fraction of routine tasks to women than men, automation technologies that reshape the task content of some occupations may partially help to reduce the gender wage gap, especially for highly-educated women and for those with medium-education that are able to work in complement with new technologies.

Finally, it notices that the current occupational structure of Latin America is considerably biased towards occupations with high RTC compared to high-income countries. While males in routine jobs work mainly in the primary, construction, manufacturing and transport sectors, females are over-represented in routine occupations in services such as sales and cleaners and helpers.



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