New data on part-time employment of women

In February 2013, the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) presented new findings on part-time employment in Germany. The share of women in employment grew between 1991 and 2010 from 57% to 66%, but despite the increased participation of women in the labour market there are still huge gender disparities with regard to working time. Figures showed 47.5% of women work part time compared to only 8.1% of men. Family care is the reason most frequently given by women for working part time.

Background

In February 2013, the findings of new research into part-time employment in Germany were published based on data from Reconciliation of family and work: Results of the microcensus 2010 (in German, 680Kb PDF). The research was carried out by the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), which is part of the Hans Böckler Foundation (HBS), and published in its WSI GenderDatenPortal.

The findings showed the share of women in employment – both as employees and in self-employment – grew constantly between 1991 and 2010. In that time it rose from 57% to 66%. The proportion of men in employment declined slightly from 78.4% to 75.9%.

Stark gender differences

There remain very substantial differences in working time. In 2010, almost half of women in employment (47.5%) worked part time compared to only 8.5% of men in employment. In western Germany the share of women in part-time employment was 50.7% compared to 35.1% in eastern Germany.

Mothers in particular worked part time whereas fathers tended to be in full-time employment. Overall 70% of working mothers were in part-time employment compared to 36.5% of working women without children. Well over 90% of working fathers had some kind of full-time employment, with only 5.6% of fathers working part time.

There were still substantial differences between western and eastern Germany, as shown in Table 1. In the west, the share of part-timers among employed mothers was 75.4%, while it was 45.3% in the east.

Table 1: Part-time employment among parents in 2010 (%)
 

All Germany

Western Germany

Eastern Germany

  Women Men Women Men Women Men
Employed parents*

70

5.6

75.4

5.3

45.3

7.1

Employed without children

36.5

9.5

38

8.8

31.1

11.6

All employed

47.5

8.1

50.7

7.5

35.1

10.6

* All persons living in a household with at least one child under the age of 18

Source: Keller and Haustein, 2012; WSI GenderDatenPortal, 2013

When asked about the main reason for working part time, almost half of the women surveyed highlighted family care – including home care and family obligations – as their number one motivation. Figures showed 77% of mothers in part-time employment gave this as their main reason for not working full-time hours.

The single reason most frequently given by men for working part time was that full-time employment was not available.

It is significant that among the few fathers working part time, only 5.6% said they did not want to work full time. But as Table 2 shows, almost 40% worked fewer hours because there was no full-time job available.

Table 2: Reasons to work part time in 2010 (%)

Reason for part-time employment

Women

Men

  All With children under age 18 Without children under age 18 All With children under age 18 Without children under age 18

No full-time job available

18.3

9.8

26.2

35.9

39

34.9

Did not want to work full time

21.8

8.6

33.8

20.9

5.6

22.5

Family care (including home care, family obligations)

49.6

77.2

24.2

9

23.4

4.5

Other reasons (education, illness, no reason given)

10.3

4.4

15.8

34.3

21.9

38.1

Source: German Microcensus 2010; calculation WSI GenderDatenPortal

Commentary

It is striking that although increasingly more women are going into employment, gender equality does not seem to be making significant progress when it comes to working time. Christina Klenner, Senior Researcher and Head of the WSI GenderDatenPortal, draws attention to the problem that many women in part-time employment face negative consequences on retirement, as they will often only be entitled to a small pension. There is a need to have more part-time jobs which pay enough to make a living, and more full-time jobs with fewer hours to offer better opportunities to reconcile work and family life.

Heiner Dribbusch, Institute of Economic and Social Research, WSI

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