European Commission report reveals increase in female breadwinners during economic crisis

by Natasha Wynarczyk

Group of Businesswomen REX

A recent European Commision report has investigated the impact of the economic crisis on the situation of women and men, finding this has caused the number of female breadwinners to increase.

It found in 2007 dual earner couples were the vast majority of all working age couples where at least one member worked - 74.1 per cent on average in the 26 countries examined.

Male breadwinner couples were a minority at 21 per cent and female breadwinner couples made up only five per cent.

However in the first two years of the crisis, dual earner couples lost 5.1 per cent of their share in favour of an increase in female breadwinners.

This shift was also found to have been more pronounced in some of the worst and first hit countries, especially the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

More men than women reported cuts in pay, heightened job insecurity and worsening quality of work content during a time of economic crisis, reflecting higher job losses. For women the main problem was having to reduce work hours more frequently than men.

Expert Jenny Garrett, author of Rocking your Role: The how to Guide to Success for Female Breadwinners commented of the findings: 'I am not sure that society is more accepting of female breadwinners, although I do have frustrated women send me messages saying 'why do we still need to talk about this?'

'Ultimately, female breadwinners are still a minority and mostly treated with suspicion or curiosity by those that know their situation'.

She has listed the facts some male job roles have been totally eradicated, women being paid less than men and the 'maternal instinct' meaning women will take part-time roles in order to look after their families as some reasons for the latest findings.

'Ultimately, I imagine that most couples will see this as temporary. In my book 'Rocking Your Role' the female breadwinners that I interviewed saw their situation as temporary.

 I viewed this as a coping mechanism for women to deal with the stress and perhaps not deal with underlying issues they had about being breadwinner, but depending on the length of the crisis and how it works for them, they may decide to make it a permanent arrangement' she added.

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