Part-time workers in Europe

In the last decade, part-time employment as a percentage of total employment has increased in most industrialized countries (O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998). In 1992, 14.2% of the total EU working population defined themselves as part-time workers; by 2002, this figure had increased to 18.1%. There are marked differences in part-time employment rates depending on countries, sectors or occupations, as well as individual characteristics such as age or gender.

Minority of EU men (6.6%) work on a part-time basis, this percentage is much higher in the case of women (33.5%) (data in both cases for 2002). The highest presence of part-time workers can be observed in the Netherlands (43.8% of total employment), followed by an intermediate group comprising the United Kingdom (25.0%), Sweden (21.4%), Germany (20.8%) and Denmark (20.6%). The lowest presence of part-time employment can be found in the southern European countries: Portugal (11.3%), Italy (8.6%), Spain (8.0%) and Greece (4.5%). These national differences are caused by a combination of factors including differences in the state of the economy, the labour market, the organisation of childcare, education, and tax and social security systems (O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998).

Interestingly, and from a time dynamic perspective, part-time work has increased in all Member States for both men and women in the time period 1992-2002, with the only exceptions of Greece in the case of men and Denmark and Sweden in the case of women.

The countries with the lowest differences between male and female part-time workers are the Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, as well as the Netherlands. In these countries, the rate of female part-time employment is, at most, three times the male part-time rate. As stated above, Denmark and Sweden are the only countries in the EU where the female part-time presence dropped between 1992 and 2002. Spain, Germany, Austria and Luxembourg show the largest differences between male and female part-time rates. In these countries, female part-time rates are seven or more times higher than those for men.


2 thoughts on “Part-time workers in Europe

  1. It is true that The Netherlands are known for their high parttime work rate. In the Netherlands women are satisfied working part-time, because relatively high-skilled work can be done part-time and full-time work is not a financial necessity. Parttime jobs are also very popular among the students because this way they can study and work at the same time. Almost all students in holland have a parttime job for example at restaurants or call centers.

  2. In my opinion, part-time job is quite good solution for young people and for women. For young people it is very good, because they can combine their studies and work. They can get some money for living student life and in the same time get some experience, which can be very useful in the future for looking full-time job. But in case of women, part- time job is good for those, whose want to spend more time with their children and at home. In that way they can get some money, feel that they are evaluated in the labour market and spend some more time together with their families. However, in this case family have to be secured to be able to afford for one parent to work part- time job.


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