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Gaps in the EU Labour Market Participation Rates: an intersectional assessment of the role of gender and migrant status

A study by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre finds that being both a woman and born outside the European Union reduces a person's chance of active participation in the European labour market, even if that person is highly educated.

Women's participation in the EU labour market has increased in recent years, thanks to gender-focused initiatives that promote their employment. Gender gaps do still remain, though, particularly when it comes to migrant women. These women are active in the labour market to a lesser extent than native-born women, as well as their male peers and native-born men. The gap was found to be even wider among women educated to tertiary level than among women with lower levels of education.

The study suggests that this gap in activity could be linked to non-transferability of higher education qualifications, and calls for the implementation of additional measures to facilitate the recognition of skills and diplomas.

The study's researchers call for more policies that support the labour market participation of all women, whether they are native-born citizens or migrants. Their findings suggest that the following gender-based barriers are the root cause of the lower representation of women in the labour market, whether born in the EU or not:

  • Men still assume the traditional breadwinning role more often than women, while women are more often the carers of the family;
  • The job status of men improves when they marry: married men are more likely to be active in the labour market and to have higher salaries, in comparison with non-married men;
  • The likelihood of women being active in the labour market drops if they are married;
  • Women experience a so-called 'motherhood penalty': having children has a clear negative impact on their labour market participation.

Access the full, 43-page report online here.

Sara Grubanov-Boskovic; Guido Tintoir; Federico Biagi
Posted by:
Olivia Long (Migration Policy Group)