275.4 How do economic downturns affect gender inequality within working arrangements? A comparison of Swiss regions

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:52 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Sarah KERSTEN , University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Martin GASSER , University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Michael NOLLERT , University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Sebastian SCHIEF , University of Fribourg, Switzerland
The world is still facing the consequences of the financial crisis in 2008, e.g. rising unemployment, rising national debts, a slowdown of wage growth as well as rising social inequality. In this paper we focus on the consequences of economic downturns on the gender-specific distribution of paid and unpaid work in Switzerland. There have been three economic downturns in the last 20 years, measured with the annual change of the GDP. As Switzerland is strongly marked by its federalism, we hypothesise that the economic downturns affect cantonal economies and policies and therefore cantonal gender inequality to varying degrees. By using data from the Swiss Labour Force Survey, we analyse regional variations in Switzerland within and between the work spheres, based on indicators regarding gender inequality.

In terms of the economy, we expect cantons with e.g. a strong services sector to be much more affected than those with a strong industrial or rural sector. In terms of the political system, we expect conservative cantons to have a stronger rise in gender inequality than progressive ones. Moreover, in terms of welfare regimes, in liberal cantons, the impact of the financial crisis may be worse than in conservative or social-democratic cantons due to a different degree of decommodification. Furthermore, the impact of the economic downturns also varies over time. We assume that the downturn of the 90s had much less influence on the volume of paid work of men compared to women than it had in the rise of the downturn beginning 2008. All in all, we expect major changes within the cantons in terms of shifts between paid and unpaid work. The degree of transformation and the differences between men and women depend on the political, economic and cultural framework of the respective cantons.