Research Paper

Women in a Man's World: Labour Market Equality Driving Economic Growth

Gender equality is one of the core principles of the EU. This is set forth in, for example,  Article  2  of  the  Treaty  of  the  European  Union.  Equality  between  men and  women  includes  equality  in  the  labour  market.  However,  this  equality  is  far from having been achieved. Building on our forthcoming research for the Martens Centre, we explore in detail four factors that may explain the gender gap in labour force  participation  across  countries.  These  factors  are  education,  taxation,  the provision of childcare, and cultural and historic norms. In discussing these factors, we  focus  on  case-study  countries  which  represent  different  regions  and  feature diverse institutional characteristics: Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden.

Through this  analysis  we  propose  four  policy  actions  designed  to  place  gender  equality in the labour market at the heart of a growing European economy. These are (1) the  promotion  of  better  work-life  balance  (2)  embedding  equality  in  national  tax systems (3) tacking gender stereotypes through education and (4) understanding the  benefits  of  long  term  investments  for  long  term  gains  in  terms  of  equality policies. To conclude, we acknowledge that it is preferable to implement policies that are tailored towards the institutional and cultural settings in each country and to specific groups of workers. Thus it is important that gender policies should be established at the national level. Rather than seeking to expand its competencies in the areas of education, taxation or social policy, the EU should focus on setting overall objectives.

Published on 

October 2018

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