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Structural crisis and gendered labour market effects in Greece: rethinking the link between gender equality and social progress Maria Karamessini Panteion.

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Presentation on theme: "Structural crisis and gendered labour market effects in Greece: rethinking the link between gender equality and social progress Maria Karamessini Panteion."— Presentation transcript:

1 Structural crisis and gendered labour market effects in Greece: rethinking the link between gender equality and social progress Maria Karamessini Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences EWERC, Manchester Business School, 2 nd February 2012

2 Context – character of the Greek crisis Most severe structural crisis in Greeces recent history - Sovereign debt crisis triggered the collapse of the socio-economic model Until end 2009 the Greek economy one of the least hit in the EU Since 2010 implementation of a series of austerity packages and structural policies specified in an Economic Adjustment Programme (EAP) supervised by the European Commission, ECB and IMF Severe and persistent recession undermining fiscal adjustment and establishing a vicious circle: austerity-recession and more austerity Cumulative decrease of GDP since 2008 by 13.5% and of employment by 9.5%. Recession is expected also for 2012 and Official unemployment: climbed from 7.1% in August 2008 to 19.2% in October 2011 (latest figures) – must have reached 20% today. Critical situation for the survival of the most vulnerable groups (low income groups, migrants, jobless households) impoverishment of vary large social strata, including the middle classes (well-paid employees, owners of small businesses, own-account workers)

3 Labour market effects by gender: analytical framework First-round impacts of recession on employment – second-round impacts resulting from strategies of households to cope with declining income, which vary by gender (Sabarwal, Sinha, Buvinic 2010). Employment impact by gender – concentration of women in industries and occupations with less cyclical variation and their overrepresentation among flexible workers (Rubery 1988, Humphries 1988, Miller 1990) Labour supply strategies – added and discouraged worker effects (Mincer 1962) leading respectively to an increase or a decrease of female activity rates Policy responses to the crisis and changes in the character of policies matter: counter-cyclical or fiscal consolidation, employment and social policies to maintain employment or facilitate withdrawal from the labour force (Smith and Villa 2010). Starting point for analysis: relative position of women in the employment system, size of female labour reserve, organization of the family and the welfare state, perceptions and ideas about gender roles and gender equality Societal approach (Rubery 1988) – concrete cases/experiences

4 Womens labour market position before the crisis, gender gaps and trends (1) Still low but increasing female activity rate (55.1% in 2008). Still low but increasing female employment rate (48.7% in 2008) Very high but decreasing female unemployment rate (11.4% in 2008) Dualism: a) male-breadwinner model prevalent in couple families with children where women are low or medium educated b) dual full-time-earner model prevalent in couple families with children where women are high educated

5 Womens labour market position before the crisis, gender gaps and trends (2) Women overrepresented among the flexible workforce: Higher incidence of fixed term contracts among women than men employees, but mainly concentrated among young and migrant women Relatively high share of unpaid workers in family firms/farms and relatively low share of part-time workers in total female employment – but women overrepresented in both forms of work Same incidence of uninsured work among native men and women but a great gender gap among migrants. However, inroads of native women in permanent employment and the protected segments of the LM and in the most prestigious occupations, along with the increase in their education level. Women cheaper workers than men on average: gender pay gap of 22 p.p. in 2008, above the EU-27 average (17.5 p.p.) Large differences between women by education, age and national origin

6 EMPLOYMENT CRISIS IN THE BEGINNING PREDOMINANTLY MALE SINCE MID-2010 EQUALLY FEMALE More than tripling of the number of unemployed men and more than doubling of the number of unemployed women. Large increase in the female labour force until mid-2010 DEVASTATING LABOUR MARKET EFFECTS year-to-year changes (%) ActiveEmployedUnemployed Men q3-2011q Women q3-2011q

7 …but also less discouragement of unemployed women until mid-2010

8 Women equally hit by crisis in employment since mid-2010 Reversal of trend and reduction of employment in Education Health Social care services Paid home services All female-dominated activities Adversely affected by austerity policy and cuts in social spending as well as impoverishment of middle-class families Rapidly deteriorating conditions for womens employment – We are in the middle of the crisis, not close to its end.

9 WOMENS PROGRESS IN PAID EMPLOYMENT IS REVERSED Female unemployment rate at historically unprecedented level and on the rise Employment rate (%) Unemployment rate (%) WOMEN q q

10 UNEMPLOYMENT RATES BY SEX AND AGE 2008q32011q32008q3-2011q3 Men year olds Women

11 Mens and womens role as flexible reserve in the crisis Temporary workers flexible buffer serving numerical flexibility Men temporary workers (-6.7%), women temporary workers (-10%) Employers adjusted male employment through working-time flexibility - conversion of full-time into part-time contracts mostly concern men. Men part-timers (+40.3%), women part-timers (-7.4%) New hires: increase of temporary and part-time contracts; mostly concern men and not only young men. OUTCOME More equal representation of women and men in the flexible segment of the labour market – feminization of mens employment conditions

12 Policy responses to sovereign debt crisis - Impact on employment and employment model Main objectives of the Economic Adjustment Programme: (a) fiscal consolidation through sharp cuts in public spending, huge rises in taxes and wide-ranging privatizations (b) improve competitiveness through drastic reduction in labour costs and removing restrictions to competition in regulated professions and services Radical changes in the employment model: drastic reduction in public sector employment, self-employment and the protection of permanent employees against dismissals; undermining of collective bargaining and union power; making flexible forms of work less costly for employers. Reduction of public sector employment has until now hit more men than women (-9.5% against -4.6%) but this is a provisional outcome of many on-going processes. The rule of 1 hiring for 10 exits is very penalizing for women who were the majority of hires before the crisis. Men have also suffered more from the reduction in self-employment. Changes in the employment model involve a net downgrading of workers rights and pay, sweeping away male privilege along with the gains made by women in the primary sector of the labour market. Feminization of general employment and working conditions.

13 Policy responses to sovereign debt crisis - Cuts in social spending and welfare state reforms Reduction of State budget allocations to municipalities. Great lack of staff in social care services and closing down of municipal crèches and nurseries Exclusion from all-day schools of children with at least one inactive parent and abolishment of the afternoon optional band of daylong schools (16:15-17:00) Lack of nursing staff in hospitals and financial difficulties of previously medium- income families to hire private nurses leads to increasing mobilization of female relatives for nursing duties Pension reform (a) Equalization of pensionable ages and length of service requirements for women and men insured before 1993, big penalties for early retirement greater expected rise in actual retirement age for women (b) Extension of the minimum contribution period for retirement on a full pension and calculation of the pensionable earnings on the basis entire lifetime earnings women more penalized (shorter or irregular working patterns) Long-term impact = increase in employment rate of those over 55, especially women; short-term impact = increased exits to retirement during the transition period to the new system (greater incidence of exits among women than men) – Serves the immediate goal of reducing public sector employment and spending.

14 Reaction to pension reform by gender

15 Conclusions Although the economic crisis has so far had more damaging labour market effects on men than on women, it is still in progress and the final outcome remains to be seen – women equally hit since mid 2010 A full assessment of the impact of the crisis on the gender division of labour and mens and womens lives should also consider the effects on unpaid work and its gender distribution (no data) The crisis accelerates the pre-crisis trend of erosion of the male breadwinner model but also increases the proportion of jobless households – major implications for gender relations and identities as well as for strategies to cope with the crisis that vary by gender Fiscal and structural adjustment policies are about (a) removing the privileges of the most protected male-dominated segments of the workforce – feminization of working conditions (b) downsizing and restructuring the welfare state – major gender implications both immediate and longer term

16 Conclusions cont. The crisis has interrupted womens progress towards gender equality in paid work through their better integration in employment Gender gaps in employment, unemployment and job quality have considerably narrowed since the beginning of the crisis – Ironicallygender equality is now achieved through the deterioration of social conditions of both women + men Since Enlightenment and the French Revolution, all movements for freedom and equality have inscribed their goals within the general conceptual framework of social progress, although its meanings and approaches have differed and still do. The movement for womens liberation from oppression and gender equality is no exception Need to rethink the link between gender equality and social progress, in order to reconsider priorities in a perspective of wider socio- economic reforms needed to overcome the structural crisis in Greece and elsewhere.


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