Public Sector Shock

Public Sector Shock

The Impact of Policy Retrenchment in Europe

Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead

The goal of this volume is to study this ‘public sector shock’. While budgetary reforms seek to ensure a more balanced and sound economic policy, they may generate new work inequalities among public sector employees, most particularly among women, who account for a considerable proportion of public sector employment. Cuts in education and training may also have an impact on the quality of human capital in both the public and private sectors, despite the fact that the recent crisis has shown the value of education as employees with better skills and training are more likely to maintain their jobs and incomes.

Chapter 2: Public sector adjustment and the threat to gender equality

Jill Rubery

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy, labour policy


From the Second World War onwards the public sector played a highly significant if variable role in integrating women into wage employment and promoting gender equality (Kolberg 1991; Whitehouse 1992; O’Connor 1993; Gornick and Jacobs 1998; Pillinger 2004; Mandel and Semyonov 2005, 2006; Mandel and Shalev 2009). A large public sector has been associated with better employment opportunities and conditions for lower-skilled women but also with higher levels of gender segregation. Differences in the size of public sector employment reflect the development of the welfare state and the importance attached to services rather than transfers. In Central and Eastern European countries under the previous socialist regimes, women were overrepresented in areas such as education and health, but these professional-type jobs offered lower pay and status than comparable jobs in the West (Healy and McKee 1997; Brainerd 2000; Pollert 2003; Pillinger 2004). In the transition period these jobs have remained primarily in the public sector, and public sector employees have lost out on the rising wages, at least at the top end, in the emerging private sector (True 1999). Up until the financial crisis of 2008, the long-term expectation within Europe has been that public services would at least be maintained and even grow as more and more states responded to new social needs for childcare and expanded education, health and elderly care.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information