On my Facebook page, there has been a bit of debate about my article in this morning’s Age. My basic point was that women with bachelor degrees are less likely to work full-time than men, and that this inevitably has consequences for what proportion of senior jobs go to women. These jobs are typically more than full-time, and usually go to people with a lot of experience.
Obviously childcare is a big part of the story. As the figure below shows (all data from the 2011 census), the more kids women have the less likely they are to work full-time during the years when children need care.
But the figure also shows that childless women are less likely than men to work full-time. And it shows that while full-time labour force participation increases as children grow up, women in their fifties lose interest in work regardless of how many kids they have had in the past.
Various theories were offered on Facebook. One was the caring for a disabled person could affect the numbers. There is a census question on this, and it does – for childless women it knocks 5-7 percentage points off FT work rates if they have these caring responsibilities. But only 8% of them do.
Another was that marital status matters. This was complex – a registered marriage does reduce FT work rates in all age groups, but not a de facto marriage except aged 30-44 (probably kids). Another census question asks about household arrangements, so I looked only at lone person households to eliminate co-habitation/caring factors as much as possible. And indeed this greatly reduces the differences from age early 30s onwards, as seen below (though this is partly because lone men have much worse employment outcomes than co-habitating men from their 40s).
Overall it looks like when graduate women have caring obligations or have opportunities not to work full-time, significant numbers work part-time or leave the labour force. But when they don’t need to support anyone or have anyone to support them, their workforce participation closely resembles men in the same situation.
Czech version here, translated by Alex Novak.