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Occupations

A number of interesting gender differences emerged when data on occupations from the low-income household survey were analysed. The most important of these findings relates to the dependency burden that different kinds of household head carry with respect to the number of earners in a household and the number of people these earners have to support.

Dependency on earners

Female-headed households were found to be responsible for more dependents per earner than other types of household. This was measured by means of the earner's index referred to earlier.

Female-headed households had a mean earner's index score of 206.512 (median 166.667)

Male-headed households had a mean earner's index score of 166.830 (median 100)

Joint-headed households had a mean earners index score of 176.077 (median 150)

The actual numbers of earners in the different types of households are given below in table 4.

 

Overview of types of occupation

Less than 40 per cent of the respondents in the low-income household survey were formally employed; 15 per cent described themselves as either retired or engaged in housework at home; 10 per cent categorized themselves as construction workers and 11 per cent were involved in some form of higgling or vending activity. While 37 per cent of the occupations given could be categorized as service-related, only 10 per cent were in production or manufacturing. Domestic workers were particularly prevalent In the service workers category. Female heads of household and women in general are more likely than men to be dependent on income generated In the informal economy. This is not necessarily a "worse" option than formal employment. While flows may be erratic and unpredictable in the informal sector, the actual level of income available to a family may be relatively high, allowing for considerable investment in the development of shelter. The main constraint resulting from lack of formal employment is that it tends to make it extremely difficult to gain access to formal financial systems for credit purposes. Insurance coverage, mortgage financing, loans for income-generating activities, and overdrafts are not readily extended to those without proof of formal employment.

Table 4. Percentage of different types of household by number of earners per household

Type of household

Earners per household

Total

 

0

1

2

3

4

5+

 

Female-headed

19

50

22

6

2

1

100

Male-headed

9

55

23

9

1

3

100

Joint-headed

11

34

44

7

2

1

99

Overall

14

44

32

7

2

2

101

Another aspect of informal income generation is that it tends to be far more linked to an individual's home than does formal employment. Higglers, for Instance, often use their homes to store goods, vendors use their yards to store push carts, and the multitude of goats that frequent the streets of Kingston during the day return to their owners' yards as night comes. Yard space is important not just as a space that allows households to share scarce physical infrastructure such as toilet and water facilities. It also provides a communal space that allows for sharing of child care, thus releasing women for income-generating activities. The size of the yard is one of the main determining factors in establishing the degree to which informal income-generating activities can take place. Goats cannot be kept if there is insufficient space for them to be penned at night. Goods cannot be retailed if there is insufficient space to store them. Tenants cannot be attracted if there is insufficient yard space to allow for the building of an extra room that can be rented out.

Information on the categories of occupations of different types of heads of household is summarized in table 5.

Table 5. Percentage of different types Or household by occupational category of head Of household

Occupation of head

Type of household

of household

Female-headed

Male-headed

Joint-headed

Overall

Unemployed

23

6

15

17

Retired

3

9

8

6

Housework

13

3

8

9

Agriculture/fishing

0

6

4

3

Building/construction

3

20

20

13

Clerical

4

2

2

3

Manufacturing

13

9

14

13

Sales

15

4

4

9

General services

22

23

15

19

security

1

7

3

3

Miscellaneous self-employed

2

2

2

2

Transport

1

8

5

4

Total

100

99

100

101

When the information is looked at in more detail, the gender differences that emerge do so very clearly in a number of categories. Female heads of household are far less likely than other kinds of household head to be construction, security or transport workers. They are much more likely than other types of household head to be in the sales and general service category. To be specific, in higgling for instance, 39 female heads of household were higglers as opposed to 4 male and 9 joint heads. In the general service category nearly one third of the workers were female heads of household who worked as domestics, and they accounted for well over half of the female heads of household working in general services.