Post-Oslo Palestinian (un)employment: A gender, class, and age-cohort analysis

Jennifer C. Olmsted


A strong Palestinian economy in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo agreement has not materialized. This has had serious implications for employment outcomes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A number of authors have analyzed Palestinian labor markets during this period, but have focused almost exclusively on men's employment. This article examines changes in both women's and men's employment patterns in the post-Oslo period. It finds considerable shifts in the types of work that are available, with more educated, older men in particular gaining at the expense of youth, women, and less educated men. This, it is argued, is a function of Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. policies. Economic ties between Israel and the Palestinian territories have been severed, to the detriment of less educated Palestinian men and women in search of employment. U.S. policies no doubt exacerbated this result, granting Jordan more favored trade status as part of the peace plan, thus contributing to the decline in the Palestinian textiles and apparel industries. The creation of a Palestinian public sector has led to some job creation, but primarily for more educated individuals, not those who were most likely to have lost their jobs in recent years.

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