The influence of the development of the service sector on female employment in Europe: An empirical analysis on the level of European NUTS regions
Department of Sociology FernUniversität in Hagen Hagen, Germany
The analysis of women's employment has recently mainly been discussed from the perspective of welfare state measures and the 'costs' for women (with and without children) for being gainfully employed: countries with a good public childcare infrastructure support women's constant participation on the labour market while countries with short supply and extended parental leave support the male bread winner model.
In the shadow of this discussion two other causes have been somewhat neglected: First, cultural differences between regions (Pfau-Effinger 2001; Hummelsheim 2009) and second, economic demand. The latter mainly concerns the question whether women's employment is merely the consequence of the size and the development of the service sector - which is the main source of job opportunities for women (Pettit & Hook 2005).
In order to test the genuine influence of job opportunities on female employment, the service sector has to be decomposed in its sub-units. This is because the state itself can take the role of an employer by providing jobs in the public services (administration, education, health). In the case that differences in women's employment would mainly be the result of the size and development of public services the effect would have to be attributed to the welfare state rather than to the dynamic of the private sector economy out of itself (Shire and Gottschall 2007).
Empirically, female employment rates and the development of the sub-branches of the service sector are examined. The analysis thereby draws back on information from the sub-national level (branch development on NUTS2) and on macro-information on welfare state measures (national level). Multilevel regression models are conducted in order to determine the influence of the size and development of different service sector domains on women's employment when controlling for other factors.
Results most notably show that the size and the development of the finance sector has the strongest effect on female employment thereby supporting the argument that economic forces per se are a major source of social change. However, results also confirm that the welfare state is both significantly involved in terms of allocating time to paid work as well as a provider of job opportunities.