ABSTRACT

A first glance at the position of women in the Spanish labour market would lead us to conclude that a significant advancement has taken place at least in the last three or four decades. The Spanish female activity rate 2 has constantly increased, and it is now 35% (Eurostat, 1996b; 1995 data). The former pattern of most women leaving the labour market (if ever present there) when they got married or had the first child seems to have been reversed, since currently many young women remain in the labour force after marriage or the first delivery (CES, 1994b, p. 11), as can be seen in Table 10.1. In comparative terms, part-time work is still less widespread in Spain, where it accounts for 17% of female employment, 3% of male employment, and 7% of total employment – the equivalent European Union (EU) average percentages are 31%, 3%, and 16% respectively (Eurostat, 1996b; 1995 data). This means that even if the percentage of women who belong to the active population is lower in Spain than in most EU member states, most Spanish women who work for wages have full-time jobs which provide them with a higher degree of economic independence than jobs in other EU member states, where part-time employment is much more prevalent. In all countries, women are overrepresented among workers who earn the lowest salaries. In Spain, low-earners are protected by a statutory national minimum wage, which is the same for all sectors and all jobs, and which might be improved by collective agreements (there is a reduced minimum wage for workers under 18 years) (OECD, 1994, p. 148).