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Unemployment and underemployment in Kenya have been increasing as the working age population
increases. The economy has not been able to create adequate jobs to absorb the labour market entrants in
gainful employment. This study analysed the determinants of open unemployment and underemployment by gender. The gender gap in both these labour market outcomes was decomposed to
identify factors that explain it. A probit regression model for each outcome was estimated separately for
male and female using data drawn from the Kenya Integrated Household Labour Survey 2005/06.
The descriptive statistics indicate that under employment and unemployment was higher among female
than male. The probit regression shows that after controlling for differences in personal and household
characteristics, the probability of being unemployed or underemployed was still higher among females.
Both household and individual characteristics such as human capital, marital status, region of residence,
non-labour income and age were found to be significant determinants of unemployment and
The decomposition results show that 88.8% of the unemployment gap between women and men is
accounted for by difference in individual and household characteristics while 11.2% is accounted for by
difference in the coefficients. In addition, 5.4% of the underemployment gap is accounted for by
individual and household characteristics and 94.6% is by the coefficients. The key factors determining
this gap are region of residence, age, education level, marital status and effects of shocks. Policy makers
are bound to benefit from this study in making policies that bridge the gap between men and women in
the labour market.

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