New OECD report: Nordic gender equality boosts GDP growth

14.05.18 | News
Calculating the Gender Effect - launch of OEDC report in Montreal.

OECD-debatt i Montreal

Anna Rosenberg
The steady increase of women in the labour market can account for 10–20% of the Nordic region's GDP per capita growth in the past 40–50 years, according to a new OECD report.

Almost three out of four women in the Nordic Region work. This not only makes it the most gender-equal region in the world, but also an economic powerhouse

Since the 1960s, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have actively pursued policies to ensure that both women and men can participate fully in the labour market.

Investing in working parents pays off

Extensive access to childcare, paid parental leave for mums and dads and flexible workplaces, have helped reduce gender gaps in employment so that they are now the smallest in the OECD, at about 4 percentage points compared to the OECD average of 12 percentage points.

In a new report, commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the OECD looks at the effect of these work-life policies on Nordic economic growth, as well as potential gains from closing remaining gender gaps in the future.

Comparing with Canada and the USA

In the report, the economic gains from women’s employment growth in Nordic countries are put side by side with those in other OECD countries: Canada, the USA, Germany and Japan

- Most OECD countries have made little progress in getting closer to gender equality goals in recent years, but we do have some champions leading the way. The Nordics have a long-standing commitment to gender equality, and this has significantly benefited their economies, says Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD

The Nordics still have to complete the last mile

However, there are still issues to iron out – and the potential for further economic gains.

The OECD points out that the Nordic region still has some way to go when it comes to increasing the share of women in management positions. The region is still grappling with occupational segregation in the labour market, the gender pay gap, as well as gender inequalities in working hours.

Large potential future gains

According to the report, encouraging women to increase their paid work hours so that gender gaps in both participation and working hours disappear completely by 2040, it would boost the economy by an additional 15-30% GDP per capita growth in the Nordic countries.

Nordic potential gains are large indeed, but small compared with some other OECD-countries.

Join the launche & read the full story!

  • The report will be launched and debated at the OECD High-Level Social Policy Forum in Montréal, Canada, on 14 May at 13.30 (GMT-4)
  • Tune in live to the debate with Ángel Gurría, Annika Strandhäll and others here at13.30 (GMT-4): facebook/nordenen
  • For questions about the report, contact:

Willem Adema – Senior Economist, Social Policy Division, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
Chris Clarke –  Junior Economist, Social Policy Division, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs