Theses defended

As Desigualdades entre Mulheres e Homens no Mercado de Trabalho e a sua Medição: Contributos de um Novo Indicador Composto para os Países da EU-28

Carina Jordão

Public Defence date
February 21, 2018
Doctoral Programme
Labour Relations, Social Inequalities and Trade Unionism
Virgínia Ferreira
Inequality between women and men is a complex and current issue, present both on the international political agenda and in research in the social sciences. In addition to a fundamental principle and right, equality between women and men has been seen as a form of intelligent economy capable of contributing in particular to the population welfare improvement and to the countries' growth and progress. However, in the European Union countries (EU-28), women are more exposed to disadvantages in the labour market (LM) than men, although the former make up approximately half the population, they are more succeeded in academic background and they also represent the majority of higher education graduates in most Member States. So, if equality promotes justice and economic growth, as it is often claimed, how to explain that inequalities in the labour market are still a persistent phenomenon in the 21st century, even in countries considered to be the most developed in the world? In the context of the European Union, do the countries with the lowest inequality levels between women and men in the labour market have higher levels of income, education and health? And can countries improve their achievements in these areas by making the composition of their labour market more gender-balanced?

Considering performance as the degree of achievement of countries in their ability to reach certain goals valued by society both economically and socially, this thesis has two main objectives: 1) to develop a new composite indicator of equality in labour and 2) to study the links between gender equality in the labour market and the performance of the EU-28 countries. For that purpose, the reasons that help to explain the existence and persistence of inequalities between women and men in the labour market are explored through an exercise that discusses the main theories and also questions the conceptualization and operationalization of the labour inequalities phenomenon. Then, the interrelation of (un)equality with the growth and development of the countries is analysed, taking into account the theoretical and empirical literature produced not only in the EU but also internationally. Gender equality in the LM is viewed as a goal and as a fundamental principle in the EU. However, its appreciation as a right has given way to an integrated approach that coexists with the proliferation of arguments that enhance the economic benefits of gender equality, thereby subjecting it to imperatives of economic growth and efficiency. It's within the scope of this complex process, which usually ends up giving priority to certain indicators of inequality, that we propose a new index - CIEL (Composite Indicator for Equality in Labour) - to holistically measure the level of relative equality in the EU-28 countries, simultaneously combining indicators related to labour market participation, management and leadership, wages and working conditions. CIEL, established on the basis of a non-parametric technique known as Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), also allows the identification of the benchmark countries. By using data from Eurostat, European Commission and World Bank for the period 2008-2013, the results reveal some paradigmatic transformations that have taken place over the last few years in this particular set of countries. The analysis of the situation in Latvia, which in relative terms has the highest levels of employment equality since 2010 and which CIEL identifies as a benchmark for a considerable number of countries, allows a deep reflection that draws attention to the need, in the context of the countries considered to be more developed economically and socially, to (re)think the framework of the equality between women and men on the LM, particularly in the scope of the European strategy and policies, (re)orientating the focus of the debate towards an approach that prioritises it as one of the key aspects of human development. The results of this study reinforce the idea that equality between women and men on the LM is also illustrative of the countries development level and should neither be narrowed nor viewed only as a strategy with potential to stimulate economic growth. In the context of the EU-28, the wealth of countries and the social development in terms of health and education are neither a sine qua non condition to achieve a better work-life balance between women and men nor to achieve the goals and objectives of equality.

KEYWORDS: Composite Indicator for Equality in Labour (CIEL), Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), European Union, performance, gender inequality