Press Release COVID-19 Economic Crisis and Recovery Inequality United States

US Women Still Less Likely than Men to Be in Work or School; Gap Grows with Age

October 13, 2021

Contact: Karen Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington DC — The pandemic turned many things upside down, but not the education or employment gender gap, according to a new CEPR analysis released today. Young women at all age levels are less likely than young men at all age levels to be in school or working. Furthermore, that gap widens as women enter their late 30s and early 30s.

CEPR researchers Shawn Fremstad, Julie Cai, and Tamara Sokolowsky used the “NEET” rate — an internationally recognized measure of an age group that is Not in Employment, Education, or Training — to find that gender differences in higher education or employment are narrowest at ages 20–24, but they widen at ages 25–29 and 30–34, mostly because “more women than men [take] on greater unpaid care obligations.”

That’s not the case in Sweden, a country with expansive work-family policies. Only about 10 percent of Swedish women ages 30–34 were not in employment or education in 2020 compared to about 29 percent of US women in the same age range. 

“Provisions (like universal childcare, paid family leave, and child allowances) in the Build Back Better and infrastructure bills currently moving through Congress would help close the gender gap and benefit working-class young men and women,” said Senior Policy Fellow Fremstad.



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