copy the linklink copied!Executive summary

The Netherlands performs well on many measures of gender equality, but the country continues to face a major challenge in reaching equality between women and men: the high share of women in part-time jobs. Nearly 60% of women in the Dutch labour market work part-time, roughly three times the rate for Dutch men and the OECD average for women. The Netherlands’ gender gap in hours worked has pernicious effects on the gender gap in earnings, the gender gap in pensions, women’s slower progression into management roles, and the unequal division of unpaid work at home.

The gender gap in hours worked widens when partners become parents, as mothers in the Netherlands – like in much of the world – often reduce their time in the labour market to take on more unpaid caregiving responsibilities. A majority of mothers and fathers in the Netherlands report wanting to share an equal distribution of care work, but under 40% say that this happens in practice.

The large gender gap in part-time work shows little sign of abating. While Dutch men are more likely to work part-time now than they were in the 1980s, so too are Dutch women. The gender gap in part-time work status has hovered at around 40 percentage points over the past thirty years.

How can the government of the Netherlands encourage a more equal distribution of paid and unpaid work hours? The government must pursue a multi-pronged approach. Policy measures should:

  • Encourage fathers to take more parental leave and do more caregiving throughout the life course, and change societal expectations that mothers “should” be the parent who works part-time.

  • Improve access to high-quality, affordable childcare.

  • Improve the reliability of school schedules and offer more social supports before and after the school day.

  • Reform marginal effective tax rates to encourage more full-time work among both partners in couple households.

Strengthening the policy environment, so that it provides a continuum of supports to working parents throughout their children’s early years, will help parents better achieve their work-life balance aspirations. Better policy supports can help level the playing field between men and women, contribute to more egalitarian norms around the division of work, and foster more gender-equal behaviours in paid and unpaid work in the Netherlands.


This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

Photo credits: Cover © Shutterstock/Good Studio.

Corrigenda to publications may be found on line at:

© OECD 2019

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at

Executive summary