Austerity has become the new principle for public policy in Europe and the US as the financial crisis of 2008 has been converted into a public debt crisis. However, current austerity measures risk losing past progress towards gender equality by undermining important employment and social welfare protections and putting gender equality policy onto the back burner. This volume constitutes the first attempt to identify how the economic crisis and the subsequent austerity policies are affecting women in Europe and the US, tracing the consequences for gender equality in employment and welfare systems in nine case studies from countries facing the most severe adjustment problems.
The contributions adopt a common framework to analyse women in recession, which takes into account changes in women's position and current austerity conditions. The findings demonstrate that in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, employment gaps between women and men declined - but due only to a deterioration in men's employment position rather than any improvements for women. Tables are set to be turned by the austerity policies which are already having a more negative impact on demand for female labour and on access to services which support working mothers. Women are nevertheless reinforcing their commitment to paid work, even at this time of increasing demands on their unpaid domestic labour.
Future prospects are bleak. Current policy is reinforcing the same failed mechanisms that caused the crisis in the first place and is stalling or even reversing the long term growth in social investment in support for care. This book makes the case for gender equality to be placed at the centre of any progressive plan for a route out of the crisis.
Maria Karamessini is Professor of Labour Economics and Economics of the Welfare State at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Greece. She is also Director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University. She has published extensively on labour market issues, employment and social policy, gender inequalities in paid work and equality policy. Jill Rubery is Professor of Comparative Employment Systems at Manchester Business School, UK. She is also founder and Co-Director of the European Work and Employment Research Centre. She has published widely on comparative employment systems, gender equality and labour market segmentation.
Part I 1. Introduction: Women's vulnerability to recession and austerity Maria Karamessini 2. From `Women and Recession' to `Women and Austerity: A framework for analysis Jill Rubery 3. Challenging the Balkanization of Gender Contracts Jacqueline O'Reilly and Tiziana Nazio Part II 4. Women and Men in the `Great European Recession' Francesca Bettio and Alina Verashchagina 5. Gender Impacts of the `Great Recession' in the United States Randy Albelda 6. Iceland in Crisis: Gender equality and social equity Thora Kristin Thorsdottir 7. Gender, Recession and Austerity in the UK Jill Rubery and Anthony Rafferty 8. The Labour Market Impact of the Economic Crisis in Hungary through the Lens of Gender Equality Maria Frey 9. Structural Crisis and Adjustment in Greece: Social regression and the challenge to gender equality Maria Karamessini 10. Ireland in Crisis 2008-2012: Women, austerity and inequality Ursula Barry and Pauline Conroy 11. Employment and Austerity: Changing welfare and gender regimes in Portugal Virginia Ferreira 12. Women, Gender Equality and the Economic Crisis in Spain Elvira Gonzalez Gago and Marcelo Segales Kirzner 13. Living through the Crisis in Italy: The labour market experience of men and women Alina Verashchagina and Marina Capparucci Part III 14. Policy in the Time of Crisis: Employment policy and gender equality in Europe Paola Villa and Mark Smith 15. Gender, Inequality and the Crisis: Towards more equitable development Diane Perrons and Ania Plomien 16. Economic Crisis and Austerity: Challenges to gender equality Maria Karamessini and Jill Rubery