Gender impact of recovery packages investigated

A study investigating the impact of Germany’s recovery packages on male and female employment shows that these packages benefited male-dominated sectors and reduced employment decline among men. In contrast, female employment increased slightly, even though female-dominated services sectors were not targeted. The study warns that the crisis will hit these services sectors in the long run. Meanwhile, no policy measures have been taken to prevent a future decline in women’s employment.

Impact of recovery packages on employment of men and women

In the face of the financial and economic crisis, Germany’s federal government passed two economic recovery packages in 2008 and 2009, which were meant to both stabilise the economy and safeguard employment. In total, the packages allocated €78 billion for various measures and provided for €115 billion in loan guarantees and credit lines. A study (in German, 441Kb PDF) by the research agency Genderworks on behalf of the Hans Böckler Foundation (Hans Böckler Stiftung) investigated the impact of the packages on male and female employment.

About the study

The study analyses all of the packages’ measures and instruments with regard to the sectors involved. The author of the study, Gabriele Schambach, remarks that public authorities neither provide compiled information on all measures in place nor on the demand of sectors/businesses or employees. The findings are based on various 2009 data sets from the promotional bank KfW, carried out by federal ministries and others. The sectors involved were analysed according to the distribution of male and female employees liable to paying social security contributions. Given that the definitions of the packages applied in the various sectors do not match the Federal Employment Agency’s (BA) classification system (based on the 2008 Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE)), employment figures are approximated.

Main findings

The table below provides an overview of the various measures introduced as part of the government’s two recovery packages. As shown in the table, the recovery packages targeted in particular industrial sectors with a predominantly male workforce. According to the author’s calculation, the packages addressed sectors employing an approximate total of 8.5 million workers. Of these, 78% are men and 22% are women.

Recovery packages measures, by sector and gender composition of employment


Recovery measure

% of male and female workers in the sector (liable to social security contributions)

Automotive industry

Scrappage bonus

Changes in car tax

Research funding

Public investments

Men: 83.8%

Women: 16.2%


Programme for energy-saving refurbishment of buildings

Public investments

Men: 82.2%

Women: 17.8%

Information and communication technologies (ICT)

Public investment

Research funding

Support of broadband coverage

Men 31.7%

Women 68.3%

Domestic services

Tax deduction

Men: 37.7%

Women: 62.3%

Laboratory and medical technologies

Public investment

Men: 59.2%

Women: 40.8%

Training, job transfer activities, guidance

Training provision

Increase of activities supporting job searching and job transfer

No data

Financial intermediation

Credit und guarantee lines

Men: 53.2%

Women: 46.8%

Cross sectoral measures    

General support for businesses

Short-time work

Tax deductions

Lowering of social security contributions

Lowering of income tax

Increase of innovation funding

Special credit and guarantee lines for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Increase of regional funds

No data*

Export-oriented sectors

Credit and guarantee programme

Men: 72.8%

Women: 27.2%

Notes: * Based on BA figures, employees in short-time work – men: 78%, women: 22% (as of June 2009).

Source: Schambach, G., 2010, pp. 64–65

Impact of recovery packages on employment

Male employees profited more from the recovery packages than their female counterparts. Nevertheless, employment in male-dominated sectors declined, whereas employment increased in female-dominated sectors. BA figures show that in the first quarter of 2009, male employment declined by 0.6%, whereas female employment rose by 1.7%.

In 2009, gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 4.9%; however, overall employment (workers liable to social security contributions) declined by only 0.1%. The recovery packages helped to safeguard jobs. Nevertheless, the study questions the analyses, arguing that the moderate job decline was primarily due to these policy measures. According to BA data (October 2009 data compared with the previous year), job losses in manufacturing industries (-4.1%), business-related services (-3.1%), transport, storage and communications (-1.9%) or ICT (-1.7%) were compensated by job growth in health and social services (+3.9%), education and training (+3.7%), hotels and restaurants (+2.4%) and in other services sectors. The author emphasises that job losses affected full-time employment, whereas job growth involved an increase in regular part-time work of 4%.


The author argues that the packages were designed to counteract a severe downturn of a business cycle, but do not react to a structural economic and employment crisis. Short-term measures that aimed to stabilise Germany’s export-oriented economy were given priority, which includes sectors dominated by full-time male employees, whereas long-term measures aiming to stabilise services sectors that have been fuelling employment and that are dominated by female part-time and full-time employees, were left out of the equation. The study warns that the crisis and cost-saving programmes have not yet reached these services sectors. Moreover, policy is not geared towards preventing the threat of a severe decline in female employment.

Birgit Kraemer, Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI)

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