ABN AMRO Group Economics: more women on the job market would push GDP up 3%

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Business meeting

If the proportion of women in the Dutch workforce were to equal that of men, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Netherlands could rise by about 3%. This was the conclusion of a report presented by ABN AMRO Group Economics on Budget Day, the third Tuesday in September.

The economists did, however, point out that an accurate GDP forecast is difficult to make. Factors such as women’s qualifications and the economic sectors they would join would also affect GDP.

Leader in part-time work

Maritza Cabezas, economist at ABN AMRO: “At 75 per cent, the Netherlands currently leads the world in the proportion of women working part-time. To realise a rise in GDP, more women would need to work full-time, or work more hours on a part-time basis. Our forecasts take into account that women generally earn less than men do. This is because they tend to work in sectors where wages are lower, and the fact that there is still a wage gap, resulting in lower wages for women even if they do the same work as their male colleagues.”

Parental leave schemes

Group Economics’ report states that a better work-life balance could bring more women to the job market. In countries where parents share childcare, more women participate in the job market. Cabezas: “The experience of a number of countries shows that more women will continue to work if parents can combine the separate leave schemes for mothers and fathers and use the time as they see fit. In Sweden and France, parents who divide their leave equally are paid an extra bonus, which stimulates women in these countries to take part in the job market.”

Comparison with other countries

ABN AMRO Group Economics studied the potential rise in job market participation by women for 28 countries. In some countries, mainly emerging economies (among which Turkey, Mexico and Chili), there are still relatively few women working in paid jobs. This means the economic potential in these countries is very high. Scandinavian countries, on the other hand, have the highest proportion of women participating in the job market. As a result, their potential GDP growth is limited. On an international scale, the potential 3% rise for the Netherlands puts us in a middle position.

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