Participation in Employment and Education of Young Maori Women: the Effects of Domestic Constraints and Settlement Patterns
While the employment rate of women in New Zealand has trended upwards since the end of the Second World War, employment is still highly variable by ethnicity, age and region. One of the least engaged categories are young (15-24 years) Maori women. They have much lower employment rates than their Pakeha counterparts (42% and 64% respectively) and this is not offset by greater involvement in education. At 33%, Maori actually have much lower education rates than Pakeha women (46%). Instead young Maori women are more heavily involved in unpaid work. A very high 44% report spending time taking care of a child at home during the week, versus only 21% of their Pakeha counterparts. Although there is a general awareness of these differences, there has been no systematic enquiry into the origins of the low engagement of young Maori women or its contemporary manifestations. This thesis offers an integrated analysis of labour supply and time allocation of young Maori women, drawing on insights from economic theory and past studies of female Maori labour supply. It is among the first master's thesis to utilise unit record data from the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings. Access to data on individuals and their location is essential if geographers are going to be able to join other disciplines in modelling human behaviour. In this case I use the census records on individuals in order to test three hypotheses: Firstly, those young Maori women have greater exposure to household compositions which generate domestic responsibilities that compete with the devotion of time to paid employment. Secondly, that when Maori and Pakeha are both faced with these responsibilities, there is a stronger negative effect on the likelihood of a young Maori woman securing employment, relative to her Pakeha counterparts. Finally, that young Maori women are more likely to live in geographical areas that adversely affect their likelihood of being employed than their Pakeha equivalent. Access to the census has the benefit of including as variables the characteristics of the household in which young women are living. In doing so it extends the standard empirical models of female labour supply to include elements from the literature on child labour, household labour supply models in agricultural settings, as well as the analysis of pluri-activity, all of which model young women's behaviour in the context of the economic and social structure of the household. What I demonstrate is not that young Maori women's labour participation is any more sensitive than Pakeha to constraints which I take household structure to impose, but simply that labour constraining structures are themselves far more prevalent in the case of young Maori women. It is the greater demands such households impose on the need for child care, elderly care and help in the community that combine with the lower demand for the labour of young Maori women often in non-metropolitan settings which combine to generate the much higher market inactivity rates we see particularly among Maori women in their early twenties. Being able to demonstrate this point using individual records on virtually the full population of young Maori and Pakeha women is the major contribution of this thesis.