The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Women across the world remain an underutilized resource in the labor force. Participation in
the labor force averages around 80 percent for men but only 50 percent for women - nearly
half of women's productive potential remains untapped compared to one-fifth for men. Latin
America and the Caribbean (LAC), as a region, saw the largest gains in female labor force
participation (LFP) in the world during the last two decades. Women in LAC are becoming
increasingly active in paid work, closing the gap with men and catching up to their
counterparts in advanced economies at an impressive rate. In this paper, we document the
recent trends in female LFP and female education in the LAC region, discuss the size of
potential gains to GDP from increasing female LFP and policies which could be deployed
towards this goal.