Économie et Statistique n° 398-399 - 2006Women and Men: Differences and Inequalities
Labor Force Participation of French Women: Past and Future Trends
Today 75 % of the women aged between 25 and 59 years old are participating in the labor force, as compared with 50 % in the early 1970s. However, they are more and more at the margin of the labor market: in 35 years, the female unemployment rate and the proportion of employed women in part-time work have risen respectively from 3% to 12%, and from 13% to 30%. In order to evaluate these phenomena and to predict their future evolution we use the 1982-2002 series of Enquêtes Emploi, INSEE's annual labor force surveys. We estimate the number of years a woman participates in the labor force during her lifetime (more precisely between the ages of 25 and 59) for all generations born between 1935 and 1970. If recent trends go on, female labor force participation will continue to rise steadily. Women born in the 1970s will be more present in the labour market during their lifetime (more precisely between the ages of 25 and 59) for all generations born between 1935 and 1970. They will also be in employment more often, although this trend is gradually decreasing, starting with women born in the early 1960s. When part-time employment is taken into account - i.e. periods spent in part-time employment are converted into full-time equivalent - women born in 1970 should on average experience the same career trajectoryt as those born in the mid-1950s. Women of all levels of education are affected by this stagnation, although it has occurred more recently for the most educated women.