Economic case for gender equality in the EU

A more gender equal EU would have strong, positive GDP impacts growing over time, higher level of employment and productivity and could respond to challenges related to the ageing population in the EU. 

Effect of gender equality on GDP per capita

  • Slow progress
  • Rapid progress

GDP Per capita

Gender equality has strong, positive impacts on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita which grow over time.

By 2050, improving gender equality would lead to an increase in EU (GDP) per capita by 6.1 to 9.6%, which amounts to €1.95 to €3.15 trillion.

Compared with labour market and education policies, gender equality policies have a strong impact on GDP. For example, a recent study showed that improvements in educational attainment across EU Member States would lead to a 2.2% increase in EU GDP in 2050 (DG EAC, 2016).

Effect of gender equality on Employment

  • Slow progress
  • Rapid progress

Employment

Improvements in gender equality would lead to an additional 10.5 million jobs in 2050, which would benefit both women and men.

About 70% of these jobs would be taken by women, however female and male employment rates meet in the long run, reaching an 80% employment rate by 2050.

New jobs occupied by women are particularly important as they can help to reduce poverty, one of the key priorities of the EU 2020 strategy. Women are generally affected by poverty more often than men because of lower employment and salary prospects. Hence, being in employment lowers the risk for poverty of women (EIGE, 2016).

Impact of gender equality in the GDP of EU Member States in 2030

EU Member States

The estimated GDP impacts of increased gender equality vary considerably across Member States, depending on the present level of achievement of gender equality.

Countries with more room to improve gender equality have much to gain. On average, improved gender equality in these countries is expected to lead to an increase in GDP of about 12% by 2050.

The best performing countries in the area of gender equality have already achieved good levels of gender equality and therefore already enjoy some of the associated economic benefits. However, further improvements in gender equality can generate additional economic gains even in these Member States, often reaching around 4% of GDP. 

Overall, improved gender equality could boost the long-term competitiveness of the EU economy. By 2050, exports are estimated to increase by about 0.7% whereas imports are forecast to decline by up to 1.2%, leading to an improved balance of trade.