Employment Rates by Gender
Employment rates indicate the percentage of persons of working age who are employed. In the short term, these rates are sensitive to economic cycles, but in the longer term they are also affected by government policies that pertain to higher education, income support and measures that facilitate employment of women.
Employment rates for men and women differ both between countries and within individual countries. Employment rates are here shown for total employment and for men and women separately.
Employment rates are calculated as the ratio of the employed to the working age population. To calculate this employment rate, the population of working age is divided into two groups: those who are employed and those who are not. Employment is generally measured through household labour force surveys and, according to the ILO Guidelines, employed persons are defined as those aged 15 or over who report that they have worked in gainful employment for at least one hour in the previous week. Those not in employment consist of persons who are out of work but seeking employment, including students and all others who have excluded themselves from the labour force for various reasons, such as an incapacity or the need to look after young children or elderly relatives.
Working age is generally defined as persons in the 15 to 64 age bracket although in some countries working age is defined as 16 to 64.
All OECD countries use the ILO Guidelines for measuring employment, but the operational definitions used in national labour force surveys vary slightly in Iceland and Turkey. Employment levels are also likely to be affected by changes in the survey design and/or the survey conduct, but employment rates are likely to be fairly consistent over time.
Long Term Trends
Over the period 1994-2007, total employment rates (men and women) have fallen in 17 member countries and risen in 13 countries. Particularly large falls were recorded in Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, Korea and Slovak Republic and particularly large increases occurred in Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Finland.
Growth in employment rates was very different for men and women. Employment rates for men decreased somewhat in 6 member countries during the latest three-year period, strongest in Korea, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg. For women, on the other hand, employment rates grew in all member countries except the United Kingdom, where they declined slightly. Particularly strong increases were recorded for Poland, the Slovak Republic, Germany and Austria.
Clearly, these differences in the growth of employment rates are leading to convergence in the rates for women and men although differences remain large in many countries.
For Non-Member Countries: National Sources.
Analytical publications Durand, M., J. Simon and C. Webb (1992), OECD's Indicators of International Trade and Competitiveness, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 120, OECD, Paris.
Employment Statistics. Jeaumotte, F. (2003), Female Labour Force Participation, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 376, OECD, Paris.
OECD (2002-2008), Babies and Bosses - Reconciling Work and Family Life, series, OECD, Paris.
OECD (2004), Quarterly Labour Force Statistics, OECD, Paris.
OECD (2008), Labour Force Statistics, OECD, Paris.
OECD (2008), OECD Employment Outlook, OECD, Paris. Online databases Statistical publications
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