Gender employment gap costs Europe EUR 370 bn per year
(DUBLIN) - The total cost of a lower female employment rate in the European Union - more than 10 per cent lower than the male equivalent - is EUR 370 billion, according to a report from Eurofound.
The report 'The gender employment gap: Challenges and solutions' by Eurofound's European Monitoring Centre on Change was presented to the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee in Brussels on Tuesday.
It found that women's labour market participation in the EU increased over recent decades, including during the recent financial crisis, passing 70 per cent in 2014.
However despite the continued increase and a narrowing of the gender participation gap in most Member States, a significant gender employment gap remains. Including foregone earnings and missed welfare contributions of individuals to the society, as well as the public finance cost, comprising individual welfare transfers and social benefits,the sum of around EUR 370 billion corresponds to 2.8 per cent of the EU's GDP.
At an individual level, the cost of a woman's exclusion from employment throughout her working life is estimated at between €1.2 million and €2 million, depending on her educational level.
The report finds that in 2014, the EU employment rate for people aged 15 to 64, as measured by the EU's Labour Force Survey, was 59.6% for women and 70.1% for men. Since 2008, the female employment rate has increased only slightly, with the convergence in employment driven by the relative worsening of the male employment rate.
The gender gap in employment rates is highest in Greece, Italy and Malta, while it remains low in northern countries such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden.
Eurofound's report, which details the main characteristics of gender gaps in labour market participation, employment and economic status, provides a number of immediate, and long-term, policy recommendations are included to close the gender employment gap.
It recommends policies to create incentives for employers to increase labour market participation, providing adequate and affordable childcare support, ensuring parental and adult care leave, as well as increasing the provision of flexible working arrangements.
On a broader level, it emphasises the importance that employers see women as a crucial segment of their workforce, and that care responsibilities and the adaptations needed to help them reconcile these with work are not a 'women's problem' but an area for action from which the workforce as a whole, as well as the employer, can benefit.