Exploring Inequality in Europe
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Exploring Inequality in Europe

Diverging Income and Employment Opportunities in the Crisis

Edited by Martin Heidenreich

Europe has become a dominant frame for the generation, regulation and perception of social inequalities. This trend was solidified by the current economic crisis, which is characterized by increasing inequalities between central and peripheral countries and groups. By analysing the double polarization between winners and losers of the crisis, the segmentation of labour markets and the perceived quality of life in Europe, this book contributes to a better understanding of patterns and dynamics of inequality in an integrated Europe.
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Chapter 5: Women as the relative winners of the eurozone crisis? Female employment opportunities between austerity, inclusion and dualization

Martin Heidenreich


The financial, economic and sovereign debt crisis has also had major effects on the employment and earnings conditions of women. On the basis of macro- and micro-data, this chapter discusses whether this crisis and the austerity policies in the countries most affected by the crisis have had a negative effect on the employment and wage conditions of women (austerity), whether the inclusion of women in the labour market has continued and whether the dualization of the labour markets has also affected the employment and earnings situation of women and in which dimensions. These three questions are discussed on the basis of aggregated and micro-data on the employment and remuneration opportunities of women in Europe. The austerity hypothesis can be generally refuted. Secondly, during the crisis, the shift towards more inclusive employment patterns has continued. The gender gaps in employment and unemployment rates have continued to shrink, especially in Southern European countries, which have been the bulwark of the male breadwinner model in Europe. Particularly during the crisis, high unemployment rates have contributed to the erosion of traditional gender relations. Thirdly, the employment profiles of women clearly differ from their male counterparts. Employed women are generally more highly qualified, mostly employed in the service sector and are overrepresented in atypical and low-paid jobs. This highlights a particular dualized form of labour market inclusion of women. On the one hand, high-skilled women with flexible, often part-time jobs tend to be employed in educational, administrative or social services. On the other hand, younger, less skilled women with young children are frequently employed in trade, hotels or food processing where they have to accept low pay. This indicates a particular pattern of labour market inclusion which is based on a dualization between low- and high-skilled women: some women are the winners of the eurozone crisis while others are the losers, and also indicates the continuing inclusion of women in the labour market.

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