Country report: Spain


In terms of employment the growth in womenís rate in Spain has been spectacular growing from below 35% in 1997 to almost 55% by 2006. The analysis by age reveals that women in the age group of 55-64 years of age have experienced the highest growth (42%) between 2000 and 2006 while the younger age groups (15-24 and 25-54) experienced a much lower growth rate (around 28% in both cases). Taking the whole period in to account, the highest growth has been recorded for the youngest age group (67%), followed by the oldest age group (59%). The lowest growth has been among women in the middle age group (45%) coinciding with higher likelihoods of family responsibilities. In spite of this very high growth in womenís employment the graph clearly shows that the levels in Spain remain below EU averages.

In the case of men, on the contrary, the employment rate surpassed the EU averages although employment growth was much lower than that of womenís. For men, there has been a distinct higher growth period between 1997 and 2001 followed by lower growth period between 2002 and 2006. In 2002 menís employment rate in Spain surpassed EU averages.

Although unemployment in all EU countries has dropped significantly in the past 5 years, the very high level in Spain in previous years (18% compared to around 12% in the case of Ireland and Italy in 1996) continues to influence its higher unemployment level compared to other EU countries, although it has already reached the EU25 level by 2005 (around 8.5%). This however, is very different when comparing women and men. In the graph below womenís unemployment in 2000 remained more than double men's rate in Spain, standing at around 16%. By 2006 the female unemployment rate had dropped to 11.6% but still remained clearly above menís rate (6.4%) as well as above the EU unemployment rate for women (9%).

It is important to note thatyouth unemployment rates in Spain, as elsewhere in the EU have remained much higher than these workforce averages. Thus, for the EU25 in 2006 the unemployment rates for people aged 15-24 stood at 17.3% (16.7% for men and 18% for women) while in Spain these averages were higher, standing at 18% (15% for men and 21% for women). This highlights a much worse entry level situation for young women despite their higher level of education.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that Spain has the highest level of fixed term contracts in the EU25, standing at 34% compared to around the EU average of 15%, and that this affects women in larger proportion (36.7%) than men (32%). On the other hand part-time work rates in Spain are at the lowest levels of the EU25 (18.8% compared to 12%) but women are affected, as elsewhere in the EU25, by higher proportions (32.7% in the EU25 and 23.2% in Spain).