Dutch women: high labour participation rate and high education level

08/03/2011 15:00

The labour participation rate for Dutch women is the highest in the European Union (EU). Denmark is the only country where the participation rate of women on the labour market is higher. The education level of Dutch women is also above the EU average.

Female labour participation rate in the EU, 2009

Female labour participation rate in the EU, 2009

High labour participation rate women

According to European standards, the labour participation rate of women in the Netherlands (71.5 percent) is very high. In the 27 countries of the European Union, the rate is only higher in Denmark. On the European list, Swedish and Finnish women immediately follow their Dutch counterparts. In Hungary, Greece, Italy and Malta in particular, the female labour participation rate is below 50 percent.

Three quarters of Dutch women work on a part-time basis, making them number 1 in Europe in this respect. With 45 percent, German female part-timers are in second place.

The gender wage gap is wider in the Netherlands than on average in the EU. Dutch women’s wages are on average 81 percent of gross men’s wages, versus 83 percent on average in the EU.

Proportion of 25 to 64-year-olds in the EU educated at the level of havo, vwo or mbo-2, 2009

Proportion of 25 to 64-year-olds in the EU educated at the level of havo, vwo or mbo-2, 2009

Education level Dutch women above EU average

In 2009, 70.9 percent of women in the age category 25-65 in the EU member states had completed an education at basic qualification level, i.e. higher general secondary education (havo), pre-university education (vwo) or secondary vocational education (mbo) level 2 or higher. With 71.5 percent, the proportion in the Netherlands was marginally higher. Finnish, German, Swedish, Austrian and Danish women perform better in this respect. In most countries in Eastern Europe, the number of women having completed an education at basic qualification level is significantly higher. In the former Eastern bloc countries, education is traditionally considered as very important.

With 52 percent, the participation of women in higher education is also relatively high.
The only three countries in the EU where the participation rate of women in higher education is below 50 percent are Luxembourg, Cyprus and Germany.

Marion van den Brakel and Marijke Hartgers