We investigate the changes in women's participation patterns across 15 EU countries over the last 20 years using individual data from ECHP and EUSILC databases. Our findings reveal a role of social policies and institutional factors that is stronger than what has so far been assessed. Labor market reforms explain almost 25% of the actual increase in labor force participation for young women, and more than 30% for highly educated women. The effects of labor market reforms on the participation of low skilled women in the labor force are instead surprisingly small. We also find that reforms of the institutional framework towards a model of flexicure labor market are effective in enhancing women labor supply only when deregulation is accompanied by sufficient social compensation.
employment gender gap labor market institutions child-rearing elderly care flexicurity