The Impact of Discriminatory Legislation on Irish Female Unemployment Flows

JEL Classification J16 and J71

Michael J. Harrison
Eric A. Strobl
Patrick P. Walsh

Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin and European Bureau of Economic Research


Ireland provides us with a unique case-study of the effects of discrimination in the labour market. Since the ninteen-sixties and until the late nineteen-eighties, gradual reforms of explicit discrimination against females with regard to entitlement to and duration of unemployment assistance and benefit have been introduced. The primary aim of this paper is to asses the impact that these reforms have had on the level of female turnover activity in the Live Register. The results show that the reforms may be modelled as well defined discrete shifts in the inflows and it is noteworthy that the more significant of the estimated effects of reforms are those corresponding to those which gave the large numbers of females that were in non-activity the option of entering the Live Register without any prior need of employment contributions. The results also provide evidence of a secondary effect of reforms on the level of female outflows, and appear to support the hypothesis that the reforms have encouraged females to remain on the Live Register for longer periods of time.


This research was funded by the Arts and Social Sciences Benefaction Fund in Trinity College Dublin. We are grateful for this support. Special thanks are due to Hartmut Lehmann for making his British flow data available to us.