Economic position of women has improved

© Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten
The economic position of women has improved again in post-crisis years, as shown in the 10th edition of the Emancipation Monitor published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP).

Between 2015 and 2017, a growing share of women were in employment. In addition, the average working time of women increased from 27 to 28 hours per week. The share of economically independent women rose from 58 to over 60 percent. At the same time, however, there are widening disparities among women in terms of economic position. Low-educated women and women with a non-western migration background are less likely to be in work and economically independent. These disparities have not evened out over the past decade.

Economic independence (15 to 64 yrs)1) (%)
 Men, series 2007-2011 (sample data)Men, series 2011-2017 (integral data)Women, series 2007-2011 (sample data) Women, series 2011-2017 (integral data)
1)Excluding people in education.

Working time increased

In post-crisis years, the increase in working time of women has risen more steeply than pre-crisis. Compared to ten years previously, more women were working more hours in part-time jobs last year (28 to 35 hours): 25 percent as against 20 percent in 2007. Mothers with a partner in particular are working more hours on average. This is partly due to the fact that more women resume the same number of working hours after their first child is born. In 2007, this was the case for 40 percent of mothers, but this had gone up to 60 percent in 2017.

4 in 10 women adapt their working pattern with the arrival of children

Mothers with a partner and with young children are increasingly economically independent: nearly 66 percent (2017) versus 54 percent in 2007. If these women should become single - on average, four in ten relationships end up in divorce - they are more likely to be able to support themselves financially. Over 40 percent of all women either reduce their working hours or stop working after the birth of their first child. Fatherhood barely affects labour participation among men: the fathers work an average 40 hours per week, both before and after the birth of their children.

In caring for the children, another disparity is seen between men and women: men take on one-third of the hours spent on care for any children, while women take care of two-thirds. The share of men in paid employment is one and a half times larger than that of women. In recent years, this situation has hardly changed.  
Average working week of women (15 to 64 yrs)1) (Hours)
All women26.427.227.8
Mothers with partner
Youngest child aged 0 - 11 yrs22.325.326.3
Youngest child aged 12 - 17 yrs2324.525.8
1)Excluding people in education.

Low-educated women still less often economically independent

Women with a low level of education are relatively less often in work, work fewer hours and are less likely to be economically independent compared to highly educated women. The past decade has seen increases in labour participation and working time as well as in the economic independence of both lower and highly educated women. However, the education gap has not narrowed in recent years in terms of their economic position.

Economic empowerment gap between women with and without migration background has widened

During the economic crisis, the labour participation rate among women with a non-western migration background declined and along with it, their degree of economic independence. A larger number of non-western women joined the labour force as of 2015, but the existing gap in labour participation with native Dutch women has now become wider compared to 2007. On the other hand, the difference in number of working hours has become smaller. Non-western women have had a higher number of working hours for years, but due to an increase in working hours among women without a migration background, the difference has narrowed as of 2007.

The Netherlands still leading in part-time work

The Netherlands has had the highest part-time employment rate in the world for years. In comparison with other countries around the EU, women in the Netherlands are relatively often in paid work, but they work part-time far more often than the rest of the EU: 74 percent as against 31 percent on average in the EU. In terms of hours spent on caring for children, both mothers and fathers in the Netherlands are hardly different from other member states.

Also in the Emancipation Monitor 2018:
• Women higher educated than men for the first time.
• Gender gap in gross pay per hour slightly smaller.
• Share of women in technology on the rise.
• More women in the top of the business world, science and the government.
• Few female managers compared to the rest of Europe.
• Women want to work an average of 29 hours weekly, men 39 hours.
• Women now have longer but less healthy lives.
• Violence against women has declined somewhat, more male than female crime victims.

What is the Emancipation Monitor?

Every two years, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) jointly publish the state of affairs of women’s emancipation in the Netherlands. As of this tenth edition, the paper version has been replaced by a digital publication ( Simultaneously with this publication, CBS is launching a newly developed databank, StatLine M/V  (Dutch only), with a broad spectrum of socioeconomic statistics on men versus women. In addition, more in-depth publications on women’s economic independence and social safety of women are planned for next week.

SCP/Statistics Netherlands-publicatie Emancipation 2018, Wil Portegijs en Marion of the Brackish (red.), The Hague/Heerlen, Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau/Statistics Netherlands, December 2018, ISBN 978 90 377 0813 4.

Digital card stack, Dutch only:

For further information:
CBS: Tanja Traag. Please contact the CBS Press office at tel. +31 70 337 4444,
SCP: Marysha Molthoff via tel. +31 6 48616455 or