chapter  7
22 Pages

Securing a foothold in the labour market

ByCHRISTINE COUSINS

Employment growth in Spain since the end of recession in 1995 has been one of the highest in Europe. The increase in women’s employment rate has been twice the rate of the European Union average and that for men has been nearly four times the European average. Unemployment, too, has fallen from its very high level of 20 per cent in 1994 to 11 per cent in 2002. However, Spanish labour markets retain their distinctive features with, for example, the highest unemployment rate in the OECD and the EU, one of the lowest employment rates in Europe, the highest proportion of temporary fixed-term contract workers and a large informal economy. The aim of this chapter is to generate insights into the implications of these employment trends and conditions for gender relations, household structures and coping strategies in Spain. As discussed below, the perspective adopted is one which makes gender central to the analysis and also takes into account the interaction between household and family circumstances, employers’ strategies, labour-market policies and the welfare state.