Demographic factors involving non-working years in European adulthood

Pilar Zueras, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB
Pau Miret-Gamundi, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB
Antía Domínguez-Rodríguez, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB

This paper examines trends of labour force development in thirteen European countries, by analysing non-working years by gender and by ten years birth-cohorts for people aged 50 years and over. The analysis draws on retrospective information of working histories available in the third wave of the Survey of Health Age and Retirement in Europe (SHARELIFE), carried out between autumn 2008 and summer 2009. The respondents are representative of the population living in Northern (Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands), Central (Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium), Eastern (the Czech Republic and Poland) and Southern Europe (Spain, Italy and Greece). We gather information from 26,238 respondents (80.8% women) living in 17,824 different households. We compute the age of finishing full-time education, which we consider the starting point for working biographies: those who never went to school or who left school before they turned 14 years old are observed from that age onwards; we exclude those people without information on the age at the end of education (174 cases) or who left school beyond age 30 (321 cases). In sum, we measure non-working years of 10-year cohorts of males and females by estimating the average loss of potential working years from leaving full-time education to the age of 50. Our research hypothesis states that these European cohorts have experienced a substantial decrease in non-working years, as well as a social erosion of rigid gender models regarding productive and reproductive roles. In fact, results show different patterns across countries that reveal the gender differences in labour market engagement, as well as a decreasing number of non-working years for younger generations, mostly due to increasing female labour market participation. However, although the falling trend is observed for all countries, gender imbalance remains, with noticeable differences across countries.

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Presented in Session 10: Life course and education