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OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland 2013

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland 2013

OECD's 2013 survey of the Swiss economy examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Its special chapters cover long-term growth and women's role in the economy.

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Women's role in the economy

Swiss women are now as well educated as their male counterparts. However, progress remains to be made in the job market where both the supply and price of female labour are below that of men. While the participation rate for women is high and rising, it is offset by a heavy incidence of part-time work, reflecting both personal preferences and factors that limit their labour supply. The lack and high cost of childcare options for parents, as well as burdensome marginal income tax rates for second earners, create disincentives to work more. A falling but persistent net (i.e. unexplained) wage gap of about 7% in favour of men, coupled with under-representation of women as managers and entrepreneurs, further reduce the incentive for women to take full advantage of their high levels of human capital. Priority should be given to removing those barriers by increasing public spending on childcare and out-of-school-hours care at the cantonal and municipal levels. Existing regulations regarding childcare provision should also be investigated to see whether a broader range of price and quality childcare options is feasible. The implicit tax penalty for married women should also be removed, as the Federal Council is currently considering. More flexibility in working arrangements could further alleviate women’s cost of reconciling work and family life. For instance, facilitating flexi-time, annualised hours, job-sharing, part-time and telework options for both women and men, and creating paternity and/or consecutive, take-it-or-leave-it parental leave could facilitate transition in and out of the labour market. Increasing competition in product markets should help reduce the wage gap by replacing old habits with the hunt for talent regardless of gender. Finally, a corporate governance code in favour of a more equal representation of women in leadership positions, and setting ambitious quantitative targets for women on boards combined with the Comply or Explain practise, or quotas, should help remove the so-called glass ceiling.

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