Almost three out of four women in the Nordic Region work. This not only makes it the most gender-equal region in the world, but also an economic powerhouse.
Since the 1960s, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have actively pursued policies to ensure that both women and men can participate fully in the labour market.
Investing in working parents pays off
Extensive access to childcare, paid parental leave for mums and dads and flexible workplaces, have helped reduce gender gaps in employment so that they are now the smallest in the OECD, at about 4 percentage points compared to the OECD average of 12 percentage points.
In a new report, commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the OECD looks at the effect of these work-life policies on Nordic economic growth, as well as potential gains from closing remaining gender gaps in the future.
Comparing with Canada and the USA
In the report, the economic gains from women’s employment growth in Nordic countries are put side by side with those in other OECD countries: Canada, the USA, Germany and Japan
– Most OECD countries have made little progress in getting closer to gender equality goals in recent years, but we do have some champions leading the way. The Nordics have a long-standing commitment to gender equality, and this has significantly benefited their economies, says Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD
The Nordics still have to complete the last mile
However, there are still issues to iron out – and the potential for further economic gains.
The OECD points out that the Nordic region still has some way to go when it comes to increasing the share of women in management positions. The region is still grappling with occupational segregation in the labour market, the gender pay gap, as well as gender inequalities in working hours.
Large potential future gains
According to the report, encouraging women to increase their paid work hours so that gender gaps in both participation and working hours disappear completely by 2040, it would boost the economy by an additional 15-30% GDP per capita growth in the Nordic countries.
Nordic potential gains are large indeed, but small compared with some other OECD-countries.
This article was originally posted on Norden.org