Gender equality is not just about fairness and equity in all its political, social and cultural dimensions, it is also about economic empowerment, efficient use of human capital, and economic growth. Making the most of the talent pool ensures that men and women have an equal chance to contribute both at home and in the workplace, thereby enhancing their well-being and that of society.

With Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now (2012) and Is the Last Mile the Longest? Economic Gains from Gender Equality in Nordic Countries (2018), the OECD previously explored the economic effects of greater gender equality on past economic growth and projected possible future economic gains. Building on these past analyses, this report illustrates the economic case for gender equality in the Estonian context.

Estonia, like other OECD countries, has made great strides in gender equality. Girls today outperform boys in some areas of education but are still less likely than boys to study mathematics or information and communication technology. The number of women in employment is growing, and only a limited number of them work part-time. But Estonian women are still less likely to make it to the top, and career breaks around childbirth contribute to the declining but still considerable gender wage gap.

This review considers the gender gaps in labour market outcomes and explores the gap in pay between men and women with equivalent skills within the same firms and across firms. It considers family support policies for households with young children, women’s bargaining position in firms, initiatives to combat gender-based discrimination as well as changing gender norms in education. It then explores the potential economic gains of greater gender equality under different scenarios. Indeed, a greater sharing of paid and unpaid work between men and women will lead to economic gains, but it requires changing norms, mindsets, and attitudes. Such changes take time, but policy has a role to play in raising public awareness of gender biases in society and promoting change.

This report was prepared by a team of analysts in the OECD Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) led by Willem Adema, including Maja Gustafsson (Chapter 2), Alexander Hijzen, Gabrielle Ciminelli, Caroline Coly and Antton Haramboure (Chapter 3), Jonas Fluchtmann (Chapters 1, 4 and 7) and Marie-Anne Valfort (Chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6). Under the leadership of Stefano Scarpetta (Director, ELS) and Mark Pearson (Deputy-Director, ELS), Monika Queisser (Senior Counsellor and Head of the Social Policy Division) supervised the project. We are very grateful to all Estonian officials, experts and stakeholders who made time available to discuss their area of expertise with us during the “virtual fact-finding mission” in 2021. We also thank those who commented on previous drafts, including Valentina Patrini, Mark Pearson and Monika Queisser as well as Lee Maripuu, Merlin Murumets, Käthlin Sander and Age Viira (Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs) and colleagues in the Office of Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner, Britt Järvet (on education issues), as well as Kristiina Luht and Airi Mitendorf (regarding gender-based violence). Lucy Hulett, Eva Rauser and Natalie Corry prepared the report for publication, with Alastair Wood providing communications support.

The OECD gratefully acknowledges the financial support by the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs towards the preparation of this study.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

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. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

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