Gender unemployment gaps in the EU: blame the family

from Health Economics Review at on December 28, 2016 at 11:45AM

There are considerable differences in gender unemployment gaps across the EU. We use labor force survey data on 21 countries to perform a series of data decompositions and show that the cross-country variation in gender unemployment gaps is primarily driven by the differences in female labor force participation behavior after childbirth, namely, the family leave duration and the subsequent attachment of women to the labor force. Further, in countries where a high share of women permanently withdraw from the labor force after childbirth, the size of gender differences in unemployment strongly correlates with the Eurobarometer measure of perceived overall gender discrimination. Our findings suggest that family leave policies and institutions that facilitate the leave to work transition and the work-family balance are crucial to tackle the gender differences in unemployment in countries where the female unemployment rate exceeds that of men.JEL Classification: J13, J21, J70.