Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ireland, labour market gender


As for Ireland, data reveal that the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the unemployment rate has had a gender dimension: male-dominated economic sectors – such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction activities – have suffered the most from the increasing unemployment rate, whereas female-dominated sectors – such as the public sector and health and education activities – have been sheltered from the recession at least in terms of layoffs (the female unemployment increased by 94% between 2008 and 2014). For this reason, the gender gap between employment rates for men and women has narrowed but with an overall levelling down due to the dramatic increase in male unemployment (127% increase between 2008 and 2014) rather than to the improvement in female employment rate. The differentiated impact of the crisis by sectors, mirrored in a reduction of the overall gender segregation rate by sector. Feminisation rates of single sectors over the considered period present a relevant decrease in the real estate activities (the feminisation rate was 55% in 2008, 48.2% in 2013, and 38.8% in 2014). 

Irish female workers are not provided with the necessary childcare facilities as Ireland has been estimated to spend less than half the OECD41 average on early childhood care and education; affordable childcare services are very difficult to access and, since Ireland has amongst the highest childcare costs in all OECD countries, this contributes to creating a relevant disincentive to work, especially for single parents. Consequently, family-based care is the most common form of childcare with less than 20% of children aged two in formal childcare settings in 2014. For low-income families, childcare can cost up to 40% of the total income; families with two children pay on average 24% of their income, which is double than the EU average cost. The Irish Government has implemented some measures in order to guarantee access to childcare services: the dominant form of support is the universal child benefit payment, which has been cut though from EUR 160 per minor to EUR 130 per minor over 2009–2013 and then increased up to EUR 140 in 2014–2015. A second contribution consists of a EUR 1,000 cash payment for 0–5 year-old children to accommodate parental care choices: this contribution as well was cut in 2009, abolished in 2010, and replaced with a free pre-school year. Nonetheless, an Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme was introduced and in 2015 extended to a second year. The Government has announced that a new single affordable childcare programme would be introduced in 2017, reinforcing other existing affordable childcare schemes destined to low income mothers or community-based programmes. 

As for the GEI, the trend has shown a steady upward trajectory between 2005 and 2012; the sub-domain of work in particular reported a 10-point improvement between 2005 and 2010, enduring afterwards a slight decrease due to the general impact of the crisis on employment.

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