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Gender gaps in unemployment rates in OECD countries

  • Ghazala Azmat
  • Maia Guell
  • Alan Manning

There is an enormous literature on gender gaps in pay and labour market participation but virtually no literature on gender gaps in unemployment rates. Although there are some countries in which there is essentially no gender gap in unemployment, there are others in which the female unemployment rate is substantially above the male. Although it is easy to give plausible reasons for why more women than men may decide not to want work, it is not so obvious why, once they have decided they want a job, women in some countries are less likely to be in employment than men. This is the subject of this paper. We show that, in countries where there is a large gender gap in unemployment rates, there is a gender gap in both flows from employment into unemployment and from unemployment into employment. We investigate different hypotheses about the sources of these gaps. Most hypotheses find little support in the data and the gender gap in unemployment rates (like the gender gap in pay) remains largely unexplained. But it does seem to correlate with attitudes on whether men are more deserving of work than women so that discrimination against women may explain part of the gender gap in unemployment rates in the Mediterranean countries.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19995/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19995.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19995
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  1. John C. Ham & Jan Svejnar & Katherine Terrell, 1999. "Women's unemployment during transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(1), pages 47-78, March.
  2. Franco Peracchi, 2002. "The European Community Household Panel: A review," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 63-90.
  3. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2004. "Job protection: the Macho Hypothesis?," Sciences Po publications 1192, Sciences Po.
  4. Flinn, Christopher J & Heckman, James J, 1983. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 28-42, January.
  5. Katharine G. Abraham & Robert Shimer, 2001. "Changes in Unemployment Duration and Labor Force Attachment," NBER Working Papers 8513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons from Europe," NBER Working Papers 5688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stephen R. G. Jones & W. Craig Riddell, . "The Measurement Of Unemployment: An Empirical Approach," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 09, McMaster University.
  8. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  9. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-83, June.
  10. Nicoletti, Cheti & Peracchi, Franco, 2002. "A cross-country comparison of survey nonparticipation in the ECHP -ISER working paper-," ISER Working Paper Series 2002-32, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  11. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2001. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," NBER Working Papers 8200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Diamond, Peter A, 1994. "Ranking, Unemployment Duration, and Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 417-34, July.
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