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Gender labor force participation gaps


In a recent article in the Regional Economist, Li Li and I plotted gender gaps in labor markets of G7 countries in 1991, 2001, and 2011. We focused in particular on two gender gaps: labor force participation (the difference in labor force participation rates for men and women) and unemployment (the difference between the unemployment rate for men and women).

While we used data from the World Bank and OECD, we could have just as easily transformed FRED data series to obtain these gaps. In the graph, we show the gender labor force participation rate gap in the United States and the G7 country with the largest gender labor force participation gap in the most recent data: Italy.

In the United States, the labor force participation rate for men has been trending down since World War II, while the labor force participation rate for women has been trending up—that is, until the Great Recession, when it began trending down in parallel with the rate for men. The gap has shrunk to about 10 to 12 percent. In Italy, the trend of the gap is very similar, but it’s shifted to the right and to date the gap is still almost twice as large as that in the United States.

How this graph was created: After finding the first series (men, United States) and the second series (women, United States), create your own data transformation using the formula a-b. After finding the same two series for Italy, apply the same transformation.

Suggested by Silvio Contessi

View on FRED, series used in this post: ITALFPMNA, ITALFPWNA, LNS11300001, LNS11300002


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