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Labour market

07.03.23 | Statistik
Nordic women are among the most employed in the world, almost three-fourths of women are in the labour market. This is thanks to affordable childcare and the right to paid parental leave and employment protection. But you might not call the Nordic labour market completely gender equal. It is sex-segregated and marked by women’s part-time employment. These factors create a pay gap between women and men.

Labour market status

Almost as many women as men are in paid employment in the Nordic region. Women's employment rates are significantly higher than the EU average. This is linked to the Nordic countries' long commitment to subsidised and quality childcare, generous parental leave schemes for both parents, equal pay as well as education. 



While both women's and men's labour force participation rates are high, the Nordic labour markets are, however, very sex-segregated. Most women work in female-dominated industries like care work, health and education. Men are mainly employed in male-dominated industries such as agriculture, construction,  utilities, transport and IT. This segregation is the most important explanation behind the gender pay gap.

Part-time work

More women than men work part-time in the Nordic countries. Part-time employment is more prevalent in the Nordics than in the EU at large. While having the opportunity for part-time work has a positive effect on the labour participation rate of women, it affects women's economic standing. More women work part-time because there is a tradition for part-time hours and shift work in female-dominated industries. At the same time, women shoulder a larger share of unpaid care work and housework. This leads to inequality in working hours and ultimately in life-time earnings.