For decades, Saudi Arabia had one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world. In 2018, the share of Saudi women who had a job or were actively looking for one was 19.7 percent of the adult population of women with Saudi citizenship, our focus group for this blog (we are not considering the large expatriate population as they display a vastly different labor market behavior).

But in the last couple of years, something has been changing. In a relatively short time span of just two years, the labor force participation rate of Saudi women increased from 20 percent in late 2018 to 33 percent by the end of 2020—that is to say that the share of Saudi women in the labor market expanded by an incredible 64 percent in just two years!

Women of all ages are joining the labor force at higher rates. Between the end of 2018 and the end of 2020, the largest increases happened among Saudi women between the ages of 40 and 54 with increases of more than 20 percentage points. Most of the other age groups displayed an increase of at least 10 percentage points.

Read the full article about Saudi women in the labor force by Sofia Gomez Tamayo, Johannes Koettl, and Nayib Rivera at Brookings.