If the EU stepped up its efforts to improve gender equality, more jobs would be created, GDP per capita would increase and society would be able to adjust better to the challenges related to the ageing population. These are the main results of a new study by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), launched on the occasion of international women’s day on 8 March 2017.
“Equality between women and men is one of the EU's fundamental values. It is about fairness. Now numbers talk: equality is a driver for economic growth. Gender equality will bring more growth to Europe”, said Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.
“Our study proves that gender equality is good for the economy and it cannot be disregarded if the EU wants to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. For far too long, gender inequalities have been limiting women’s economic opportunities and we now have proof that gender equality is crucial for the entire economy”, said Virginija Langbakk, EIGE’s director.
The evidence confirms that improvements to gender equality would generate up to 10.5 million additional jobs by 2050 and the EU employment rate would reach almost 80%. EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita would also be positively affected and could increase up to nearly 10% by 2050.
The level of economic benefits varies considerably across Member States, with some individual countries seeing around a 4% GDP increase and others exceeding 10%. Countries with more room to improve their current level of gender equality have much to gain.
Improved gender equality measures could also help address demographic challenges for the EU, such as the ageing population. Previous research suggests that gender equality is linked to higher fertility rates, which would lead to a larger population and an increase in long-term labour supply. This is important in light of current EU demographic projections, which predict a rise in the number of older people out of the labour force.
The study on the ‘economic benefits of gender equality’ looked at what the economic impacts would be if gender inequalities were reduced in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, labour market activity and pay. It also considered the demographic changes when these gender gaps are reduced.
No previous study has attempted econometric modelling of such a broad range of macroeconomic benefits of gender equality in the EU.
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