Statistics on employment characteristics of households
Data extracted in July 2021.
Planned article update: August 2022.
This article, using the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) data, gives insight into characteristics of households with regard to employment. Results are presented for the EU as a whole, for all EU Member States individually, but also for four candidate countries (Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey).
More statistics on this topic can be found in the Eurostat database under the section households statistics (see LFS series - specific topics). This article is nicely complemented by the articles Employment - annual statistics, Unemployment statistics and beyond and Household composition statistics.
Overview of employment in EU households
In the EU, in almost 6 in 10 households all adults living in the household were employed in 2020 (57.5 % of all private households) as it can be seen in Figure 1. Precisely, in 40.5 % of the households all adults were working full-time and in 17.0 % at least one adult was working part-time and all other adults (if any) were working full time. By contrast, in 26.4 % of the households at least one adult was not working and at least one adult was working and in 16.1 % no adults were working.
Note: For comparison purpose, the households composed solely of students or solely of people outside the labour force aged 65 and over were excluded.
This picture differs when the presence or not of children in the household is considered. In 61.8 % of households with economically dependent children, all adults were employed against 54.9 % of households without children in 2020. These shares can be broken down as follows: all adults were working full-time in 39.0 % of households with children against 41.4 % in absence of children and, at least one adult was working part-time and all other adults (if any) were working full-time in 22.8 % of households with children, that is significantly more than for households that do not include children (13.5 %). Furthermore, in 30.0 % of households with children, at least one adult was working and one adult was not working. However, this share reached 24.2 % among households without children. Finally, among households with children, 8.2 % did not encompass any employed adults while this share reached 20.9 % among households without children.
Comparing the situation in 2010 and in 2020 as displayed in Figure 1, it is clear that the share of households in which all adults were working increased significantly over the last decade: +4.3 percentage points (p.p.) for households with all adults working full-time, and +1.4 p.p. for households with at least one adult working part-time and all other adults (if any) working full-time. Similar increases are observed regardless of the presence of children. However, larger differences are visible among households including at least one adult working and one adult not working: their share decreased by 5.0 p.p. among households with children but by 2.2 p.p. among households without children. Moreover, the households in which no adults were employed decreased less for households with children than for households without children (-0.7 p.p. against -3.6 p.p. respectively).
At national level, all adults were working in more than two thirds of the households in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Estonia, recording the highest shares in the EU (see Figure 2). However, focusing only on households in which all adults were working full-time, Czechia ranked first with 59.3 % of the households, followed by Estonia (56.4 %) and Lithuania (56.3 %). Croatia and Poland recorded the highest shares of households in which at least one adult was working and one adult was not working (46.2 % and 38.1 %, respectively). By contrast, in 2020, Greece and Belgium had the highest percentage of households in which no adults were working (21.7 % for both), followed by Sweden (19.3 %), France (19.2 %), Italy (18.8 %), Spain (17.7 %) and Austria (17.0 %). Turkey showed also in 2020 a percentage above 20 % (21.7 % as Greece and Belgium).
Employment, education level and presence of children in the household: gender approach
It is largely assumed that whether or not a person has children present in the household affects the way he or she participates in the labour market. Furthermore, the number of children and the age of the youngest child would also play a role. This section aims at presenting the employment rates according to the different features of people aged 25-54: household composition, number of children and whether the youngest child is under 6 years. These employment rates are shown in Figure 3 for the total population and they are also broken down by education level.
First of all, even if differences are visible according to the household's characteristics, the level of education appears to be determinant in the level of employment of each category and this applies especially for women.
Regardless of the education level and the presence of children, the share of employed women aged 25 to 54 living in a single adult household amounted to 78.3 % and was slightly higher than the share of employed women living in a couple (75.8 %). In addition, 67.6 % of women living in another type of household were employed in 2020. More noticeable differences are observed for men: the employment rate of men aged 25-54 and living in a couple reached 91.6 %, while it amounted to 81.6 % for the men living in a single adult household and 76.2 % for men living in another type of household.
In 2020, the employment rate of women with children was 72.2 %, 4.6 p.p. below the employment rate of women without children (76.8 %). For men, it is the opposite, the presence of economically dependent children seems to play a positive influence on the employment rate: 9 in 10 men with economically dependent children (90.0 % exactly) were employed against 8 in 10 for men without children (80.9 %).
With respect to the number of children, the employment rate of women with one child or two children were actually very close in 2020 in the EU: 74.2 % and 74.3 % respectively. However, the employment rate of women with three children or more was significantly below, as employed women with three children or more stood at 59.1 %. Furthermore, female employment shows large differences according to the level of education. The higher the number of children, the wider the gap between women with low and high level of education: 32.0 p.p. for women having one economically dependent child in the household, 38.6 p.p. for women having two children, and 48.4 p.p. for women with three children or more. Indeed, women with a high level of education and three children or more maintained an employment rate of 79.9 %, while the employment rate of women with a low level of education and three children or more dropped to 31.5 %.
Among men with children, the employment rate of men with two children was the highest, reaching 92.4 %, followed by those with one child (88.7 %) and three children or more (86.7 %). The highest employment rate amongst all categories was recorded for men with a high level of education and two children amounting to 96.2 % in the EU. The employment gap for men with children between those with a low and a high level of educational attainment is not as wide as for women whatever the number of children (from 14.0 p.p. for men with two children to 23.8 p.p. for men with three or more children).
Looking at men and women for which the youngest child is under 6 years, a great disparity is also observed between people with a low and a high level of education and between genders. The employment rate of women with at least a child under 6 years was 35.4 % for women with a low level of education, 62.0 % for those with a medium level and 79.5 % for those with a high level of education, producing a gap of 44.1 p.p. between the low and the high level of education. Moreover, the share of employed men with a child under 6 years was 77.3 % for those with a low level of educational attainment, 92.3 % among men with a medium level of education and 95.7 % among men with a high level of education.
Finally, the fluctuations between categories of household are less pronounced for women with a high level of education, the maximum difference is 9.6 p.p. among household categories for women with a high educational attainment level against 21.5 p.p. and 18.9 p.p. for women with a low and a medium level of education, more sensitive to the presence of children. The same pattern is observed for men but to a lesser extent.
The figure at the top of the article indicates the employment rate of men and women aged 25-54 having or not children by country in 2020. At EU level, the share of employed women aged 25-54 having children was 72.2 % in 2020 against 76.8 % for women without children. Conversely and as previously presented in this section, men aged 25-54 with children had in 2020 a higher employment rate than men without children (90.0 % against 80.9 %). The highest shares of employed women with children, all above 80 %, were recorded by Slovenia (86.2 %), Sweden (83.5 %), Portugal (83.0 %), Lithuania (82.6 %), Denmark (82.2 %), the Netherlands (80.7 %) and Finland (80.3 %). The lowest rates were reported by Italy (57.3 %), Greece (61.3 %) and Spain (66.2 %) where less than two thirds of women with children were employed. Another relevant finding is that 95 % or more of all men with children aged 25-54 were employed in 2020 in Czechia, Malta and Slovenia, which are the highest rates found among the EU Member States.
The widest gaps between the share of employed women and men having children were found in Italy, Greece, Hungary, Czechia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Ireland. In all these countries, the differences between the employment rate of women and men with children exceeded 20.0 p.p., and ranked from 28.9 p.p. in Italy to 20.7 p.p. in Ireland. At EU level, the gender employment gap was 17.8 p.p. between both categories. By contrast, Portugal, Slovenia and Lithuania recorded differences lower than 10 p.p. It also appears that the employment rate of women with children seems to be higher in the countries showing the narrowest gender gaps. The results change drastically in absence of children. At EU level, the difference between the employment rate of men and women with no children was 4.1 p.p. in 2020 and was above 10 p.p. in only 3 countries (i.e. Italy, Greece and Romania).
Part-time employment for men and women, with and without children
Figure 4 shows the effect of having children on part-time employment for both the male and female population. Note that all results are limited to persons aged 25-54 years, so that different national situations for pupils, students and retired persons do not influence the results and do not compromise the comparability between countries.
In 2020, almost one third of women aged 25-54 years with children worked on a part-time basis in the EU (32.6 %). Figure 4 shows that the share of part-timers differs greatly between men and women and that the gender gap becomes even wider when persons have children. In all countries, the proportion of women with one or more children that are employed on a part-time basis is higher compared to men, with Montenegro being the only exception. The gap between men and women with children for the part-time employment rate was 27.5 p.p. in the EU in 2020. Concerning men and women without children, the gap was narrower and amounted to less than half of the gap observed for people with children (12.7 p.p.).
In Romania and Bulgaria, differences between men and women and between people with and without children, are rather small. In these two countries, the proportion of part-time workers is relatively low. In Denmark, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Greece, there are almost no differences (less than 1 p.p.) in the share of part-time employment between women with or without children. However, the most common pattern is that having children does influence the part-time employment among women. For example, in Germany 29.8 % of women without children worked part-time in 2020 against 66.9 % of women with children, in Austria these rates were 32.3 % against 64.4 %, and in the Netherlands 58.5 % against 81.7 %. This suggests that women in these countries tend to shift to part-time work from the moment they have children.
Children and adults in workless households
In 2020, in the EU, 9.0 of children aged 0-17 and 9.2 % of people aged 18-59 were living in workless households. In 2013, these shares reached 10.6 % for children aged 0-17 and 11.3 % for people aged 18-59, which were the highest shares recorded on the overall period 2009-2020. Both categories steadily decreased during the period 2014-2019. In 2019, 8.7 % of children aged 0-17 and 8.8 % of people aged 18-59 were living in households where no-one works. However, they both increased in 2020, by 0.3 p.p. and 0.4 p.p. respectively (see Figure 5), most probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As shown in Figure 6, more than 10 % of children lived in 2020 in workless households in Sweden (14.7 %), Belgium (12.3 %), France (11.3 %), Ireland (11.1 %), Italy (10.5 %) and Bulgaria (10.2 %) while it concerned less than 5 % of the children aged 0-17 in Slovenia (2.5 %), Croatia (4.1 %) and Portugal (4.9 %).
In Greece, Italy and Sweden, more than 12 % of people aged 18-59 lived in households where no one was employed (13.5 %, 12.5 % and 12.4 %, respectively) and less than 5 % in Malta and Czechia. The largest differences between the shares of men and women living in workless households were recorded in Malta (2.5 p.p.), Greece (2.3 p.p.), Lithuania (2.2 p.p.), Ireland and Luxembourg (both 1.8 p.p.). In two thirds of the EU Member States, the share of women living in workless households was higher than for men.
Source data for tables and graphs
Source: All statistics presented in this article are derived from the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS). The EU-LFS is the largest European household sample survey providing quarterly and annual results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over. It covers residents in private households and excludes those in collective households. Conscripts in military or community service are not included in the results. The EU-LFS is based on the same target populations and uses the same definitions in all countries, which means that the results are comparable between the countries.
Under the specific topic 'Households statistics', the EU-LFS currently covers statistics on household composition and number and size of households.
Reference period: Yearly results are obtained as averages of the four quarters in the year.
Coverage: The results from the EU-LFS currently cover all European Union Member States, the EFTA countries Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, as well as the candidate countries Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Nevertheless, EU-LFS household data are not available for Iceland, Norway, Switzerland. For Cyprus, the survey covers only the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.
Country note: In Germany, since the first quarter of 2020, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) has been integrated into the newly designed German microcensus as a subsample. Unfortunately, for the LFS, technical issues and the COVID-19 crisis has had a large impact on the data collection processes, resulting in low response rates and a biased sample. Changes in the survey methodology also led to a break in the data series. The published German data are preliminary and may be revised in the future. For more information, see here.
Definitions: The concepts and definitions used in the survey follow the guidelines of the International Labour Organisation.
• Employment covers persons aged 15 years and over (16 and over in Spain and Italy, 15-74 years in Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and 16-74 years in Iceland), living in private households, who during the reference week performed work, even for just one hour, for pay, profit or family gain, or were not at work but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent, for example because of illness, holidays, industrial dispute or education and training. The LFS employment concept differs from national accounts domestic employment, as the latter sets no limit on age or type of household, and also includes the non-resident population contributing to GDP and conscripts in military or community service.
• The distinction between full-time and part-time work is generally based on a spontaneous response by the respondent. The main exceptions are the Netherlands and Iceland where a 35 hours threshold is applied, Sweden where a threshold is applied to the self-employed, and Norway where persons working between 32 and 36 hours are asked whether this is a full- or part-time position;
• Unemployment covers persons aged 15-74 (16-74 in Italy, Spain and Iceland) who were not employed during the reference week, were currently available for work and had either been actively seeking work in the past four weeks or had already found a job starting within the next three months.
• The level of education refers to the educational attainment level, i.e. the highest level of education successfully completed. Low level of education refers to ISCED levels 0-2 (less than primary, primary and lower secondary education), medium level refers to ISCD levels 3 and 4 (upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education) and high level of education refers to ISCED levels 5-8 (tertiary education).
Different articles on detailed technical and methodological information are available through: EU labour force survey.
Employment statistics are at the heart of many EU policies. The European employment strategy (EES) was launched at the Luxembourg jobs summit in November 1997 and was revamped in 2005 to align the EU’s employment strategy more closely to a set of revised Lisbon objectives. In July 2008, employment policy guidelines for the period 2008–2010 were updated. In March 2010, the European Commission launched the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; this was formally adopted by the European Council in June 2010.
The European Pillar of Social Rights has been jointly signed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on 17 November 2017. Employment and social policies are the main fields of interest of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is about delivering new and more effective rights for citizens. It has 3 main categories: (1) Equal opportunities and access to the labour market, (2) Fair working conditions and (3) Social protection and inclusion. In particular, today's more flexible working arrangements provide new job opportunities especially for the young but can potentially give rise to new precariousness and inequalities. Building a fairer Europe and strengthening its social dimension is a key priority for the Commission. The European Pillar of Social Rights is accompanied by a ‘Social scoreboard’ which will monitor the implementation of the Pillar by tracking trends and performances across EU countries in 12 areas and will feed into the European Semester of economic policy coordination. The scoreboard will also serve to assess progress towards a social ‘triple A’ for the EU as a whole.
There are concerns about households where no one is working or has very limited access to work. There is indeed a need to address the issue of household joblessness for a number of reasons: for the households themselves, especially for the future of their children; to reduce poverty; for the productive capacity of the economy; and for the common good and societal well-being.
- All articles on employment
- Employment - annual statistics
- Employment - quarterly statistics
- Employment in detail - quarterly statistics
- Household composition statistics
- Labour market slack - unmet need for employment - quarterly statistics
- Labour market slack – annual statistics on unmet needs for employment
- Unemployment statistics and beyond
- People outside the labour force
- Job vacancy statistics
- Labour market statistics at regional level
- Labour market in the light of the COVID 19 pandemic — online publication
- The life of women and men in Europe. A statistical portrait - 2020 edition
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- Being young in Europe today - family and society
- Household composition, poverty and hardship across Europe - 2013 edition
- Labour force survey in the EU, EFTA, United Kingdom and candidate countries — Main characteristics of national surveys, 2019, 2021 edition
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- EU labour force survey — online publication
- European Union Labour force survey - selection of articles (Statistics Explained)
- LFS series - specific topic(t_lfst)
- Number of persons in households (tsdpc510)
- LFS main indicators (t_lfsi)
- LFS series - Detailed annual survey results (t_lfsa)
- LFS series - Specific topics (lfst)
- Households statistics - LFS series (lfst_hh)
- LFS main indicators (lfsi)
- LFS series - Detailed annual survey results (lfsa)
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- LFS ad-hoc modules (lfso)
- EU labour force survey — online publication
- Labour force survey in the EU, EFTA, United Kingdom and candidate countries — Main characteristics of national surveys, 2019, 2021 edition
- Quality report of the European Union Labour Force Survey 2019, 2021 editionworkless
- Statistical working papers / Manuals and guidelines
ESMS metadata files and EU-LFS methodology
- Households statistics - LFS series (ESMS metadata file — lfst_hh_esms)
- Employment and unemployment (Labour Force Survey) (ESMS metadata file — employ_esms)
- LFS ad-hoc modules (ESMS metadata file — lfso_esms)
- LFS main indicators (ESMS metadata file — lfsi_esms)
- LFS series - detailed annual survey results (ESMS metadata file — lfsa_esms)
- LFS series - detailed quarterly survey results (from 1998 onwards) (ESMS metadata file — lfsq_esms)