Are women more economically active in Germany than France?

Population and Societies

493, October 2012

The German labour market is in better shape than that of France, and the employment rate among women in particular is higher. This is true even though German women have more difficulty reconciling work and family life than in France. Anne Salles takes a critical look at employment indicators and how they are calculated, and explains why German women appear to be more economically active than French women, and what is really happening in the two countries.
The employment rate of women in Germany has been rising steadily, and exceeds that of France (66% versus60% in 2010 according to Eurostat). But this observation
must be qualified. The growth in the German rate is due mainly to the increase in part-time work (45% inGermany and 30% in France among working women
aged 15-64), and the full-time equivalent employment rate remains higher in France than in Germany. Frenchwomen are no less present in the labour market than German women, but their pattern of employment isdifferent: they enter the labour market later and leave it earlier, a smaller proportion are in employment, but theywork longer hours, and they more frequently continue working when they have children. Childcare is morewidely available in France than in Germany and working mothers are better accepted. In Germany, there is still awidely held belief that good mothers should take care of their children themselves and not leave them to go out towork. Mothers thus tend to remain confined to a role of secondary wage earner.

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