Resilient or newcomer? Female breadwinners in Spain and the impact of the economic crisis

Xiana Bueno, Harvard University
Elena Vidal-Coso, Université de Genève

Spain is a unique country in the European context with regards to the impact of the crisis on income roles within households, particularly due to the increasing prevalence of female-breadwinner couples as a consequence of greater male unemployment. Using panel data from the Spanish Labour Force Survey for the crisis period (2008-2015), we longitudinally investigated flows between household types in order to establish the extent to which the shift towards female-breadwinner couples reflects a greater resilience of women's employment. Specifically, we sought to find whether it stemmed from a sectorial and occupational pattern of job losses within a gender-typed labor market or rather was due to added worker effect, with previously non-active women entering the labour force. Through logistic regression models with random effects, we observe intra-couple dynamics from one observation t to the following t+1. In the first group of transitions to female breadwinner, couples began as dual-earner partnerships, whereas in the second transition group they were formally either male-breadwinner couples or couples where neither partner was employed. We also analyze the sociodemographic, and labor characteristics associated with each type of flow. The underlying assumption is that differences exist in the education level, job characteristics and national origin of female-breadwinner couples. In those cases in which the female partner is the primary earner, a better socioeconomic performance is expected, while in couples where she is an added worker more precarious labor conditions are supposed. For the latter, the analysis will differentiate labor force entry from inactivity and unemployment. The understanding of the diverse paths towards new female economic roles due to the crisis is of central importance in order to forecast possible implications for gender equality.

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Presented in Session 52: Life course and female employment