Home > Uncategorized > Mediterranean blues – participation and employment.

Mediterranean blues – participation and employment.

Recently, Eurostat published data on labour participation rates in North Africa and the eastern mediterranean. In many of these countries, female labour participation rates (paid labour, that is) are low (graph 1). And they are lower than they used to be (graph 2).

Graph 1. Labour market participation rates, Israel (IL), Morocco (MA), Egypt (EG), Lebanon (LB), Tunisia (TN), Palestine (PL) and Algeria (DZ).


More surprisingly than low female participation rates are, as the fertility rate has gone down and educational levels have improved, the increasing differences between male and female participation rates in many of these countries.

Graph 2. The difference between the labour market participation rate of women and men.



Is this caused by an ‘Islamic awakening’ which encourages women to leave earning money to men? Hmmm – it shouldn’t: ‘At age 25, Muhammad wed his wealthy employer, the 40-year-old merchant Khadija.’ Or is it caused by implicit and/or explicit ‘affirmative action’ for men by governments who can’t provide enough jobs (not just government jobs, also market sector jobs) for their citizens? Extreme political turmoil? I don’t really know.

There is a stark difference between developments in these countries and developments in nearby countries like Spain and Greece (graph 3), where differences between male and female employment rates have rapidly dwindled, partly because the female employment rate increased (up to 2008) and partly because men were hit harder and earlier by the crisis (post 2008) than women (especially in Spain, with its construction boom). And oh, the graph shows of course an already classic example of disintegrating societies. The traditionally very high employment rates for Greek men are hitting record low after record low while Spanish male employment rates have been rapidly declining for 6 years in a stretch. This is ‘Great Depression’ stuff, the USA ‘great reset‘ is a minor event compared with these developments.  The good news: jobs data for the second quarter of 2014 finally indicate serious job growth.






  1. Macrocompassion
    August 21, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    I bet the child employment rates in the Arab countries is up, though officially there will probably be “no data”.

  2. comma
    August 25, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Maybe explanation could be found in the media. Role models in particular.

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