Young single women in the Netherlands are slightly more likely than men to be able to take care of themselves financially, according to new research from national statistics agency CBS.
Some 78.1% of single childless women under the age of 45 are financially independent as are 76.6% of childless men, the CBS said on Tuesday. Financial independence means they earn at least the equivalent of welfare benefits, or €1,213 a month.
However, the picture is different when it comes to childless couples and changes sharply when children are involved. At that point, 45% of women reduce their hours, but just 7% of men cut down on working when they become fathers.
‘The general opinion is that women are more suitable to care for the children than men,’ CBS chief sociologist Tanja Traag told the Telegraaf. ‘We consider working two or three days a week for women with young children to be enough, but for men it is four or five days.’
In total, one third of women in the Netherlands are not financially independent, compared with one in five men.
The Netherlands has the highest percentage of part-timers in Europe, with almost seven in 10 women working fewer than the standard 35 hours a week.
But just three in 10 say they would be prepared to work more if their current household income proved to be insufficient for their needs, while 22% are willing to work longer if their job could be better combined with their private lives.
The availability of cheap, good childcare, often touted as the answer to getting more women into work, would only encourage 9% of women working part time to increase their hours and 5% of those who did not work at all to get any sort of job, the CBS said.
The government plans to make daycare free in 2025.
The government is also currently considering offering a bonus to people working part time who increase their hours, particularly in the education and care sectors.
However, Zakaria Boufangacha, deputy chairman of the FNV trade union federation, told the Financieele Dagblad on Tuesday that its research shows 75% of part timers don’t want to or can’t work longer hours.
‘In the Netherlands, lots of people work and we work on for longer than in many other European countries,’ Boufangacha said. ‘And we have been increasing the amount of time we work for decades. But we have reached a limit.’
While women could work more hours than they currently do, men would need to reduce their hours to take on more domestic tasks, he said. Employers, he said, should be more creative and ‘instead focus on the over-55s, people with disabilities and benefit claimants.’
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