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Economic activity and earnings of women

In a publication issued in December 2007, the Central Statistical Office for Poland sets out comprehensive results – with international comparisons – of research on the participation and position of women in social and economic life. The data concerning the economic activity of women and their incomes are of particular interest. Women represent 60% of the economically inactive population in Poland, while working women earn significantly less than men.

The Central Statistical Office for Poland (Główny Urząd Statystyczny, GUS) published a report on Women in Poland (in English and Polish, 9.2Mb PDF) in December 2007. The study sets out comprehensive results of research on the participation and position of women in social and economic life. The report also draws on international statistics to make cross-country comparisons. Data concerning the economic activity of women and their incomes are of particular interest for the European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO).

Economic activity

Research on business activity among the population (Badania Aktywności Ekonomicznej Ludności, BAEL) carried out by GUS adopts the basic division of occupational activity and inactivity; the main indicator comprises performing or holding a job or at least looking for a job. Tables 1 and 2 set out relevant data on the economic activity of women for the fourth quarter of 2005.

Table 1 shows the economic activity of women according to age. The most active group appears to be women aged between 25 and 34 years old, although more full-time working women are found in the 45–54 age group. Fewer women than men work on a full-time basis; overall, women represent 43.1% of the population working full time. Moreover, women represent 60.6% of the economically inactive population.

Table 1: Economic activity of women, by age
Age Total Economically active Economically inactive
Total Working Unemployed
Total Full time
000s:
Total (15 years ) 16,395 7,880 6,434 5,519 1,445 8,515
15–24 2,860 899 576 432 323 1,961
25–34 2,837 2,240 1,811 1,594 429 596
35–44 2,399 2,028 1,703 1,542 325 371
45–54 3,044 2,121 1,791 1,621 330 923
55–59 1,302 366 333 242 33 936
60 3,953 226 220 89 6 3,729
As % of total population (women and men) for each category:
Total 52.3 45.6 44.7 43.1 49.9 60.6

Note: The age groups outline data per thousand women in each category. The bottom row outlines the percentage that women represent of the total population, including women and men, in each category. For example, women represent 52.3% of the total population of working age and 45.6% of the total economically active population. Data for fourth quarter of 2005.

Source: GUS, ‘Women in Poland’, Warsaw 2007

Table 2 examines more closely the situation of economically inactive women, outlining the reasons for their inactivity. Family and household duties are given as one of the more common reasons in this regard; indeed, women represent 97.1% of all those reporting this factor.

Table 2: Reasons for economic inactivity among women
  Total (000s) As % of total economically inactive population citing the given reason (more than one reason could be given)
Total 8,515 60.6
Not looking for a job 8,416 60.6
Reasons cited:
- Discouraged by unsuccessful job search 218 57.7
- Studying or training 1,817 50.7
- Family and household duties 1,207 97.1
- In receipt of disability benefits/pension 3,236 61.9
- Illness, disability 1,524 54.8
Looking for a job but not prepared to accept one yet 85 65.9

Note: Data for fourth quarter of 2005.

Source: GUS, ‘Women in Poland’, Warsaw 2007

Comparing Polish data on women’s economic activity with relevant figures from other countries reveals that the situation in Poland does not differ greatly from other EU Member States of similar standing (Table 3). According to data for 2005 from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), women represent 45.4% of the total economically active population, compared with 50% in Estonia and 44% in the Czech Republic. Despite the generally similar data outlined in this table, women in Poland nonetheless represent a higher proportion of the unemployed population (49%) than is the case in many other countries.

Table 3: Economically active women in selected EU countries (as % of active population)
Country Total Working Unemployed
Bulgaria 46.5 46.6 45.5
Czech Republic 44.1 43.2 54.4
Estonia 50.0 50.6 44.6
Hungary 45.9 45.7 47.7
Latvia 48.3 48.5 46.6
Lithuania 49.1 49.1 49.5
Poland 45.4 44.7 49.0
Romania 44.9 45.2 40.3
Slovakia 44.9 44.4 47.7
Slovenia 46.1 45.9 48.3

Note: Data for 2005, taken from OECD, 2006.

Source: GUS, ‘Women in Poland’, Warsaw 2007

Income

The data published by GUS include a comparison of the earnings of women and men in full-time employment. Table 4 highlights the scale of inequalities in this regard for 2002 and 2004, with women clearly earning significantly less than men within every age group.

Table 4: Full-time employment and average earnings before tax, by sex and age, 2002 and 2004
  2002 2004 2002 2004
Employed full time (%) Average gross earnings in PLN
Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Men
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 2,015.79 2,425.00 2,150.44 2,571.64
By age:
24 or less 5.7 7.5 5.1 6.8 1,311.20 1,442.52 1,312.76 1,460.86
25–34 25.3 29.6 26.9 30.3 1,906.32 2,254.53 1,984.37 2,313.62
35–44 31.9 28.1 30.8 26.4 2,011.41 2,552.86 2,154.89 2,691.42
45–54 32.6 27.1 32.7 28.3 2,144.63 2,585.66 2,298.80 2,733.27
55–59 3.6 5.4 3.7 6.0 2,590.30 2,880.78 2,910.24 3,291.09
60–64 0.7 1.8 0.6 1.7 2,778.05 3,240.14 3,392.41 3,982.29
65 0.2 0.5 0.2 0.5 2,694.46 3,396.76 3,159.15 4,303.86

Note: 1 PLN = €0.29; €1 = 3.48 PLN, as at 4 April 2008.

Source: GUS, ‘Women in Poland’, Warsaw 2007

Furthermore, Table 5 outlines international comparative data on risk exposure to poverty in countries with a similar economic and social situation, as expressed by the proportion of people with earnings falling below the poverty line (taken as 60% of average income). Thus, 20% of women in Poland are at risk of poverty, as are 21% of men; these percentages compare unfavourably with the other countries listed.

Table 5: Risk of poverty, by sex, in selected EU countries (%)
Country Women Men
Bulgaria 15 12
Czech Republic 11 10
Estonia 19 17
Hungary 13 14
Latvia 20 18
Lithuania 21 20
Poland 20 21
Romania 18 17
Slovakia 13 13
Slovenia 14 11

Note: Data for 2005, taken from Eurostat.

Source: GUS, ‘Women in Poland’, Warsaw 2007

Commentary

The data presented above illustrate the extent of economic inactivity among Polish women. They also indicate that a significant factor contributing to this situation relates to family and household duties. The international comparisons, meanwhile, reveal that women in Poland have among the highest risk levels of poverty within countries of similar standing.

Jacek Sroka, Institute of Public Affairs (ISP)



Page last updated: 30 April, 2008
About this document
  • ID: PL0802019I
  • Author: Jacek Sroka
  • Institution: Institute of Public Affairs (ISP)
  • Country: Poland
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 30-04-2008
  • Subject: Gender and work, Labour market