Gender gaps in employment are persistent in Hungary and the OECD: in 2020 women’s employment rates were about 15 percentage points lower than men’s employment rates in Hungary and across the OECD on average. In 2021, the recorded women’s employment rate increased by 6 percentage points to 68% reducing the gender employment gap to just below 10%. In large part, this reduction was simply due to a definitional change in the European Labour Force Statistics applied from 1 January 2021 onwards – counting those who worked before the parental leave, receive job-related income and are guaranteed to return to their previous job as employed, in addition to active workers receiving childcare benefits.

This change gives an indication of the effects family-friendly policies and labour market policies may have on the opportunities for mothers and fathers with young children to reconcile their work and family commitments. Parenthood in Hungary has a big effect on the likelihood of women being in work, particularly when children are very young – up to three years of age.

Since the Babies and Bosses reviews of the early- to mid-2000s, the OECD has been looking at policies that help parents with the reconciliation of work and family life. Building on that work, this report focuses on policies that can support parents with very young children, in particular, parental leave supports, early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, and flexible working arrangements.

This report was prepared by Willem Adema, Jonas Fluchtmann and Valentina Patrini of the OECD Social Policy Division in the Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS). Monika Queisser (Senior Counsellor and Head of the Social Policy Division) supervised the preparations of the report under the leadership of Stefano Scarpetta (Director, ELS) and Mark Pearson (Deputy-Director, ELS). We are grateful for contributions by Ágota Scharle, Balázs Váradi, Eszter Szedlacsek and Judit Berei of the Budapest Institute for Policy Analysis, for contributions to the project by Chis Clarke (OECD Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity) and for comments on the section on entrepreneurship by David Halabisky (OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities). Natalie Corry, Lucy Hulett, Jane Maddock and Eva Rauser provided logistical, publication and communications support during the project.

The team at the OECD is grateful to representatives of the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Innovation, State Secretariat for Family Affairs and is appreciative of the co-operation and support provided by the European Commission. The project was funded by the European Union via the Structural Reform Support Programme and implemented by the OECD in co-operation with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Reform Support (DG REFORM). The co-operation with Katalin Kokavecz and László Enyedi from the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Innovation, State Secretariat for Family Affairs, Mr. Balázs Molnár, from the Mária Kopp Institute for Demography and Families, Cintia Köles and Judit Temesszentandrási from the Department for Labour Market Programmes, Ministry of Technology and Industry, and Polyxeni Mastromichali, Raluca Painter, Claudia Piferi and Giulia Porino from the European Commission’s DG REFORM has been instrumental for the project and the report.

The project benefitted from input to policy questionnaires, discussions, virtual meetings, technical workshops and a final conference with a wide range of stakeholders over the period August 2020 – September 2022, including representatives of the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Innovation, State Secretariat for Family Affairs, the Mária Kopp Institute for Demography and Family, the Ministry of Technology and Industry, the Ministry of Finance, the Budapest Institute for Policy Analysis (which operated the stakeholder interviews in Hungarian), non-governmental organisations and associations working with families, and national and international family policy experts.

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