From Statistics Explained
- Data up to May 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents gender statistics for the European Union (EU), a selection of indicators from fields such as education, labour market, earnings and health, which are particularly important for measuring differences in the situation of women and men (i.e. gender gaps). Gender statistics constitute an area that cuts across traditional fields of statistics to identify, produce and disseminate data reflecting the realities of the lives of women and men, and policy issues relating to gender equality.
The indicators show gender gaps, together with levels achieved for the population as a whole, at EU level and across Member States (e.g. the gender employment gap with the employment rate). This approach shows gender gaps in access to resources and opportunities in the broader context of the actual resources and opportunities available. The article includes links to other articles and publications that provide more detailed analysis of gender gaps.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
One of the prominent indicators in education statistics is the proportion of persons who have attained tertiary education (i.e. who graduated from universities or other higher education institutions). This indicator belongs to the set of headline indicators used to monitor the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In particular, one of EU-level headline targets of the strategy is to increase, by 2020, the share of the population aged 30–34 having completed tertiary education to at least 40%.
From the ‘tertiary education attainment’ indicator, we derive a gender gap defined as the proportion of men aged 30-34 that have attained tertiary education minus that of women. In 2013, this gender gap was -8.4 percentage points (p.p.) in the EU-28, meaning that the proportion of women aged 30-34 that had attained tertiary education exceeded that for men by 8.4 p.p. (see Figure 1). All Member States recorded a negative gender gap in tertiary education attainment. In 2013, that gap ranged from -1.2 p.p. in Austria (the smallest gender gap in absolute value), -1.8 p.p. in Germany and -3.4 p.p. in Romania to -21.8 p.p. in Estonia and -24.8 p.p. in Latvia (the largest gender gap in absolute value).
For the population as a whole, the proportion of persons aged 30-34 that had attained tertiary education in 2013 ranged from 22.4 % in Italy to 52.6 % in Ireland. Among the countries with the largest gender gap in absolute value (above 20 p.p.), the proportion of persons with tertiary education was 40.7 % in Latvia and 43.7 % in Estonia, above the EU-28 average of 36.8 % in 2013. Among the countries with the smallest gender gap in absolute value (below 5 p.p.), the proportion of persons aged 30-34 with tertiary education in Romania (22.8 %), Austria (27.3 %) and Germany (33.1 %) was below the EU-28 average.
For a better view of gender issues in the field of education, it is useful to take other indicators into account: upper secondary education attainment, lower secondary education, tertiary education graduates (women per 100 men), early leavers from education and training, as well as life-long-learning (see articles of Statistics Explained in category Education and training.)
The employment rate is considered to be a key social indicator for analytical purposes when studying developments in labour markets. It is one of headline indicators used to monitor the Europe 2020 strategy. One of EU-level headline targets of the strategy is to raise to 75% the employment rate for women and men (aged 20–64) by 2020.
The gender gap analysed here is defined as the difference between the employment rates of men and women of working age (15-64). Across the EU-28, the gender employment gap was 10.7 p.p. in 2013, meaning that the proportion of men of working age in employment exceeded that of women by 10.7 p.p. (see Figure 2).
The gender employment gap varies significantly across Member States. In 2013, the lowest gap was reported in Lithuania (1.9 p.p.), followed by Finland (2.1 p.p.), Latvia, (3.4 p.p.), Sweden (3.8 p.p.) and Denmark (5.0 p.p.). These five were the only EU Member States with a gender employment gap not exceeding 5 p.p. At the other end of the scale, four Member States recorded a gap above 15 p.p., namely the Czech Republic (16.1 p.p.), Greece (18.3 p.p.), Italy (18.3 p.p.) and Malta (27.5 p.p.). This is due to the lower participation of women in the labour markets in these countries.
For the population as a whole, the employment rate for persons aged 15-64 in 2013 ranged from 49.2 % to 74.4 %. The rate varied significantly among the countries with a smaller gender employment gap. In Lithuania, for example, the employment rate (63.7 %) was below the EU-28 average of 64.1 % in 2013. In contrast, Denmark and Sweden recorded a much higher employment rate (72.5 % and 74.4 %, respectively). Among countries with the largest gender employment gaps, above 15 p.p., the employment rate in Greece (49.3 %), Italy (55.6 %) and Malta (60.6 %) was below the EU average, whereas it was higher in the Czech Republic (67.7 %).
For a better view of the gender issues in the field of employment, it is useful to analyse the following indicators: employment rate by highest level of education attained, employment by economic activity, self-employment, part-time employment, temporary employees, as well as unemployment and long-term unemployment (see articles of Statistics Explained in category Labour market.)
The ‘unadjusted’ gender pay gap provides an overall picture of gender inequality in hourly pay. This gap represents the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and women expressed as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of men. It is called ‘unadjusted’ as it does not take into account all of the factors that influence the gender pay gap, such as differences in education, labour market experience or type of job.
Across the EU, women earn less per hour than men do overall. In 2010, over the EU-27 as a whole, women’s gross hourly earnings were, on average, 16.2 % below those of men (see Figure 3).
The gender pay gap varied significantly across Member States. In 2010, the gender pay gap ranged from 0.9 % in Slovenia, 4.5 % in Poland 5.3 % in Italy, 7.2 % in Malta, 8.7 % in Luxembourg and 8.8 % in Romania to 20.3 % in Finland, 21.6 % in the Czech Republic, 22.3 % in Germany, 24.0 % in Austria. In Estonia, the gap was particularly striking. The average hourly earnings of women were 27.7 % below those of men, though the proportion of women aged 30-34 that had attained tertiary education exceeded that of men by 21.8 p.p.
Across Member States, employees’ average gross hourly earnings in 2010, expressed in purchasing power standards (PPS), varied from 33 % to 143 % of the EU-27 average. Among the countries with the smallest gender pay gap (below 10 %), earnings varied from 37 % of the EU-27 average in Romania to 132 % in Luxembourg. The countries with the largest gender pay gap (above 20 %) recorded earnings ranging from 51 % of the EU-27 average in Estonia to 116 % in Germany.
Besides the gender pay gap, based on hourly earnings, the difference between the average annual earnings of women versus men is also influenced by the higher proportion of part-time employees among women. This is shown by the ‘gender hours gap’ which represents the difference between average monthly hours paid to men and women expressed as a percentage of average hours paid to men.
In October 2010, across the EU, men were paid on average 8 % hours more than women per month (see Figure 4). The number of hours paid to men is broadly similar across EU countries, whereas part-time arrangements for women differ substantially. For the Netherlands, the gender hours gap stands out, at 31 %, meaning that female employees work are paid on average 31 % fewer hours per month than men. At the other end of the scale, Bulgaria and Hungary recorded a gender gap that was close to zero.
Besides the gender pay gap and the gender hours gap, it is also useful to consider gender gaps in employment, as these also contribute to the difference in average earnings of women versus men. To give a complete picture of the gender earnings gap, a new synthetic indicator has been developed. This measures the impact of the three combined factors (i.e. hourly earnings, hours paid and employment rate) on the average earnings of all men of working age — whether employed or not employed — compared to women. This indicator, called ‘Total earnings gap’, is calculated as follows:
where TEG means Total earnings gap, Em — Mean hourly earnings of men, Hm — Mean monthly hours paid to men, ERm — Employment rate of men (aged 15-64), Ew — Mean hourly earnings of women, Hw — Mean monthly hours paid to women and ERw — Employment rate of women (aged 15-64).
In 2010, the total earnings gap was 37.1 % in the EU-27 (see Table 1). Across Member States, the total earnings gap varied significantly, from 12.5 % in Lithuania, 12.9 % in Slovenia and 17.5 % in Latvia, to 40.7 % in the Czech Republic, 43.5 % in Italy, 44.7 % in Greece, 45.1 % in Germany, 46.3 % in the United Kingdom, 47.6 % in Austria, 50.7 % in the Netherlands and 56.9 % in Malta.
At EU level, the total earnings gap was driven mostly by the gender pay gap (contribution of 42 %) and the gender employment gap (contribution of 40 %) (see Table 2). Among countries with the lowest total earnings gap (i.e. below 20%), the contributions can be analysed in comparison with the EU average as follows:
- Lithuania and Latvia: for the gender pay gap, the contributions to the total earnings gap are particularly high (95 % and 87 % respectively against 42 % for the EU as a whole).
- Slovenia: the main trigger for the total earnings gap is the gender gap in employment rates (contribution of 77 % against 40 % for the EU as a whole).
Among countries with the highest total earnings gap (above 40 %), contributions can be analysed in comparison with the EU average as follows:
- Netherlands, United Kingdom, Austria and Germany: the gender hours gap made a particularly high contribution to the total earnings gap (53 %, 39 %, 35 % and 35 % respectively against 19 % for the EU as a whole).
- Malta, Italy, Greece and Czech Republic: the gender gap in employment rates was the main contributor to the total earnings gap (73 %, 67 %, 66 % and 51 % respectively).
In 2010, the average earnings in PPS of persons of working age, whether employed or not employed, ranged from 32 % of the EU-27 average in Bulgaria to 162 % in Denmark (see Figure 5). Among the countries with the smallest total earnings gap (i.e. below 20 %), the average earnings of persons of working age was 38 % of the EU average in Lithuania, 39 % in Latvia and 88 % in Slovenia. Among the countries with the largest total earnings gap (above 40 %), the average earnings of persons of working age was 59 % of the EU average in the Czech Republic, 70 % in Malta, 86 % in Greece, 91 % in Italy, 109 % in the Netherlands, 118 % in Germany and 124 % in the United Kingdom. For a better view of gender issues concerning earnings, it is also useful to look at: The mean annual earnings by economic activity and the gender pay gap by economic activity and age (see articles of Statistics Explained in category Wages, earnings and income).
Life expectancy at birth is one of the most frequently used indicators to measure the health status of a population. From the ‘life expectancy’ indicator, we can derive the gender gap in life expectancy at birth. This is defined as the number of years that men can expect to live (at birth) minus the number of years that women can expect to live. In 2012, the gender gap in life expectancy at birth was -5.6 in the EU-28 (see Figure 6), meaning that life expectancy at birth was 5.6 years higher for women than for men. In 2012, life expectancy at birth was higher for women than for men in all Member States, with the negative gender gap ranging from -3.7 years in the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom to -10.0 years in Latvia, -10.1 years in Estonia and -11.2 years in Lithuania.
As regards the population as a whole, life expectancy at birth varied between 74.1 years and 82.5 years across Member States. Among countries with the largest gender gap in absolute terms (10 p.p. or higher), life expectancy for the total population was 74.1 years in Latvia and Lithuania, and 76.7 years in Estonia, much lower than the EU-28 average of 80.3 years in 2012. Among countries with the lowest gender gap in absolute terms (i.e. 4 years or below), life expectancy at birth for the total population was generally higher than the EU-28 average — namely 81.0 years in the United Kingdom, 81.2 years in the Netherlands and 81.8 years in Sweden — with the exception of Denmark, where it was 80.2 years.
For a better view of gender issues concerning health, it is also useful to look at: Life expectancy by highest level of education attained, causes of death and hospital discharges by diagnosis, as well as healthy life years expectancy and lifestyle characteristics, e.g. smoking (see articles of Statistics Explained in category Health).
Data sources and availability
Eurostat produces and disseminates a number of indicators that show how men and women compare in areas such as education, labour market, earnings, social inclusion and health in the EU. The most relevant and most frequently used gender equality indicators are listed in the ‘Equality’ sub-section of the Eurostat website. The indicators are presented with links to multidimensional tables where the user can select the information they want according to additional variables (e.g. year and age group, as well as other specific domain-related dimensions). For more information on data sources and availability, see the Metadata files linked to the multidimensional tables or in other relevant articles.
Gender statistics are indispensable for identifying inequalities between women and men, and needed for the purposes of gender policy development and implementation at global, European and national levels. Four world conferences on women convened by the United Nations between 1975 and 1995 have been crucial in putting the cause of gender equality at the very centre of the global agenda. In 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing adopted the Declaration and Platform for Action.
This specified critical areas of concern considered to represent the main obstacles to women’s advancement, requiring concrete action by governments and civil society. These areas are as follows: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment and the girl-child.
Equality between women and men is a founding value of the EU (Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union) as well as a fundamental right (Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). Following the 1995 conference in Beijing, the European Council requested an annual review of how EU Member States were implementing the Beijing Platform for Action. To track progress, each EU Council Presidency produces a report that covers developments in a specific critical area. Successive EU Council Presidencies have developed a set of indicators — called the Beijing indicators — covering most of the critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action.
In March 2010, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Beijing conference, the European Commission adopted the Women’s Charter. In this charter, the European Commission reiterated its ‘commitment to making equality between women and men a reality’ by strengthening the gender perspective in all its policies and by bringing forward specific measures to promote gender equality.
In September 2010, the European Commission adopted the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015, which spells out key actions under the priority areas defined in the Women’s Charter, and one additional area addressing cross-cutting issues:
- equal economic independence for women and men
- equal pay for work of equal value
- equality in decision-making
- dignity, integrity and ending gender violence
- promoting gender equality beyond the EU
- horizontal issues (i.e. gender roles, including the role of men, legislation and governance tools).
The strategy aims to stimulate developments at national level and to provide the basis for cooperation with the other European institutions and stakeholders. The Strategy for equality between women and men supports the implementation of the gender equality dimension in the Europe 2020 strategy and its headline targets.
To assess progress in the implementation of the Strategy for equality between women and men, the European Commission publishes an annual report which includes a comprehensive list of indicators measuring gender equality (e.g. employment rate, gender pay gap, at-risk-of-poverty and social inclusion rate).
The EU and its Member States are supported by the European Institute for Gender Equality in their efforts to promote gender equality and to raise awareness about gender equality issues. The Institute supports EU Presidencies in developing the Beijing indicators. It also developed the Gender Equality Index, which provides a synthetic measure of gender equality in EU Member States.
- Employment statistics
- Europe 2020 headline indicators
- Gender pay gap statistics
- Mortality and life expectancy statistics
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion
- Sustainable development indicators
- Tertiary education statistics
Further Eurostat information
- Equality (age and gender)
Methodology / Metadata
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- European Commission - DG Justice - Gender equality
- European Commission - Europe 2020 - Key areas: comparing Member States' performances
- OECD - Gender Data Portal
- UN - Minimum set of gender indicators
- UNECE - Gender statistics
- Developing Gender Statistics: A Practical Tool, UNECE, 2010
- The EU-level targets have been translated into national targets in each EU country, reflecting different situations and circumstances
- For the 20-64 age group used by the EU headline indicator on employment, the employment rate was 68.3% in the EU-28.
- The GPG and ERG show a negative relationship. One possible explanation is the following: in countries where the employment rate for women is particular low, women who still chose to work may decide so due to their higher job profile and earnings expectations. This translates into a lower (unadjusted) gender pay gap as the latter compares the average hourly earnings of all working men against all working women without correcting for the fact that working women tend to have a specific profile.