Does women’s employment enhance women’s citizenship?

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Series Details Vol.19, No.2, May 2017, p178-201
Publication Date May 2017
ISSN 1461-6696
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The EU discourse on increasing female employment holds promise. The integration of women into the labour market supposedly supports economic growth, social cohesion, and citizenship. The question is, however, whether the expected consequences of female employment are consistent with reality.

Using the EU discourse as a point of departure, this paper scrutinises the effects of female employment from a citizenship perspective in three European cities: Aalborg (Denmark), Leeds (England), and Bologna (Italy). Using survey data collected in the three cities, it quantitatively analyses whether employment counteracts poverty, supports social and political participation, and increases social trust. It also analyses whether there are spill-over effects from the different dimensions of citizenship; that is, whether poverty leads to social isolation, political apathy, and low levels of social trust.

We find that unemployment is important for citizenship but that the differences between employed women and women outside the labour force are rather limited. We also find that the effect of a woman’s position in the vertical and horizontal division of labour is rather limited, and no spill-over effects from economic hardship on other dimensions of citizenship exist. What matters for citizenship are personal and family characteristics as well as the city of residence.

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