Gender gaps in the unemployment rate in the principal European countries from a macro and micro aspect
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There is a growing public interest in the differences in labour market behaviour and the treatment of women and men. Although women’s participation in the labour market is on the increase, gender segregation and wage differentials remain substantial. The aim of this thesis is to chart the evolution of gender differences in the unemployment rates of European countries over the past one or two decades, particularly during recession periods, which are defined by the temporary slowdown of economic activity, as well as drops in GDP and employment rates. Indeed, the ultimate aim is to establish the determinants of unemployment rate differences by gender. With reference to the datasets and available data, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 will focus on different aspects of the unemployment gender gap. Chapter 3 will use aggregate macro data to obtain an introductory idea of the determinants of the main variables in the aggregate evolution of unemployment rate difference by gender. Generally speaking, I have found that the closing of the unemployment gender gap in Mediterranean countries was due to the convergence in the labour market attachment of men and women, and largely due to the improvement of female labour market attachment. Moreover, economic status plays a more important role, especially during recession periods. In light of this, Chapter 4 uses micro data to analyse labour market transition rates by gender, in order to determine the underlying reason for aggregate unemployment gender gap changes. The results tend to vary across countries. In Spain, the UK, and Belgium, there is obviously a clear difference before the crisis and during the crisis. This may well be due to the high proportion of male workers in the industrial sector, which was hit the hardest by the recession. However, in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, the differences between male and female labour market transition are relatively stable over the whole data period. Indeed, this conclusion is based on recent research which highlighted the importance of three occurrences: firstly, the three countries have experienced a transitory external demand shock; secondly, they are expected to face long-term shortages of skilled workers; lastly, they all applied short-time work during the recession periods.