Publication Date

April 2019


Ioana Emy Matesan


College of Social Studies


English (United States)


This thesis examines female education and labor force participation in the two monarchies of Jordan and Morocco. In particular, the thesis seeks to understand why high female literacy and education levels in Jordan have not translated yet into high rates of labor force participation, and why Moroccan female participation in the labor force is higher than in Jordan, in spite of lower levels of female education. While Jordan’s female literacy rate and education levels are some of the highest, female labor force participation still hovers at a mere 15%, the region’s lowest. On the other hand, Morocco’s female literacy and education is significantly lower than that of Jordan while female labor force participation is 25%. In examining this puzzle, I investigate the relationship between education and labor force participation, and seek to understand what factors have impacted gender relations, educational policy, and labor patterns in the two countries. The conclusion of this thesis hinges on a close look at different cultural perceptions of female education. In Jordan, there is a significant acceptance of education for women and an education system that prides itself on equal access. Especially within Jordan’s tribal networks, a key part of this story is the social - sometimes cosmetic - value that this education can carry. The marriage market is central to this discussion. In many cases, education is seen as increasing one’s prospects of marriage in Jordan but potentially taking one out of the marriage market in Morocco. This implies that the metrics of female education and female employment are perhaps not as intertwined as one might think. Furthermore, such metrics interact in complicated, varied ways within different cultural contexts and produce different forms of social capital.



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