Young Dutch women less likely to be economically independent: SCP

Two out of three young women under the age of 25 are working part time compared to one in every three young men, according to a report by the government’s social advisor SCP.

The difference in working hours is the biggest in Europe, the SCP says. Young women are working 29 hours on average while men put in eight hours more. Among the reasons for the discrepancy are the relatively large number of part time jobs, good legal protection for part time workers and a high level of prosperity within the Netherlands, the SCP says.

The figures show the present generation of women is less economically independent than their male counterparts even though women under 45 have a higher level of education and start out earning more at the start of their career than men. Once over 25, the men catch up and by 30 they are out-earning the women.

In the 30 to 35 category 82% of men are economically independent (with an income of at least €920 a month) compared to 76% of women, who, at that age often take on most of the child care.

‘We have concentrated on people who are just starting out to show that there are differences from the start,’ SCP researcher Ans Merens told the Volkskrant .

‘Many youngsters start out as part timers, including boys. But boys want to work more hours while for girls this is not so important. They value their free time and want to combine work and child care.’ Women also more often choose sectors in which part time work is the norm, such as health care.


Youngsters are also influenced by their parents. According to the report, youngsters tend to see their home situation – with the mother working part time and the father in a full time job – as the norm.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven, who commissioned the report, called the results of the report ‘worrying’. ‘I am very happy my parents taught me to work and be independent,’ she told the NRC.

‘If you start on the part time path this early you are blocking off other career opportunities,’ she told the paper. Van Engelshoven is particularly worried about poor wages earned by women with vocational qualifications. ‘The face of poverty even in the Netherlands is often female,’ she said.

Van Engelshoven wants better information in schools about which sectors would lead to part time jobs and the consequences of working part time.

Although the minister wants more women in full time employment, an earlier report by the SCP questioned whether this is compatible with government calls for people to take on more responsibility for the care of people around them, a task that is often taken on by women.

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