In the four major Dutch cities, the labour participation rate of the male population was below the nationwide average. Rotterdam is the only major city where the female labour participation rate is below the nationwide average. In nearly all municipalities, the female participation rate is lower than the male participation rate, but the gender gap is narrowing.
Participation rate markedly lower in Rotterdam
In the four major cities, the percentage of men working or prepared to work more than 12 hours a week ranges between 72 percent in Rotterdam and 77 percent in Utrecht. The rate in Rotterdam is clearly below the nationwide average of 78 percent.
In 21 Dutch municipalities, gross labour participation is below the Rotterdam level. These municipalities are mainly situated in the provinces of Groningen and South Limburg. With 66 percent, the participation rate is also low in the municipality of Delft. This is chiefly due to the large student population. Municipalities where the male participation rate is highest are predominantly situated in rural areas in the provinces of North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht, e.g. in the municipalities of Lopik, Wormerland, Zederik and Harenkarspel.
Gross labour participation in the four major Dutch cities, 2005-2007
Gross male labour participation by municipality, 2005-2007
Gender gap closing
Participation on the labour market has steadily risen in recent years. Women are entirely accountable for the increase. The female labour participation rate increased from 52 percent in 1997 to 61 percent in 2007, whereas the male participation rate remained stable around 78 percent. As a result, the difference dropped from 26 to 17 percentage points in 2007.
Lower female participation rate in ‘traditional’ municipalities
With 39 and 40 percent respectively, the female participation rate is low in more traditional municipalities like Oldebroek and Urk. The gender gap in these traditional communities is more than 40 percentage points. Unlike male, female labour participation is above the nationwide average in three out of the four major cities, i.e. Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The smallest gender differences are recorded in Winschoten (low male participation rate) and Diemen (high female participation rate). In both municipalities, the gender gap is no more than 7 percentage points.
Female gross labour participation by municipality, 2005-2007