Gender segregation in the Danish labour market


To what extent is the Danish labour market gender-segregated horizontally and vertically? And how has the extent of this gender segregation developed over recent decades? An ongoing project seeks to answer these questions by using a large register data set including information about the period from 1993 to 2013.

It is well-known that, like other labour markets in Europe, the Danish labour market is highly gender segregated. Among other things, a gender-segregated labour market implies economic inefficiency because female and male competences are not used as efficiently as they could be. Therefore, gender segregation might exacerbate the risk of labour shortages and wage pressure resulting from the demographic changes expected in the future.

In Denmark, the labour market is gender-segregated both horizontally and vertically. For instance, women are mainly employed in the public sector, while men are overrepresented in the private sector. Previous studies suggest that the degree of horizontal gender segregation has been fairly constant over time, while vertical gender segregation seems to have fallen. The latter is partly explained by the fact that women have overtaken men with regard to length of education.

The project

The Ministry of Employment in Denmark has commissioned the Danish National Centre for Social Research to examine gender segregation in the Danish labour market. The purpose of the project is threefold:

First, to examine developments in the degree of gender segregation in the Danish labour market since the beginning of the 1990s.

Second, to shed light on labour market mobility at individual level. The aim is to examine trends in mobility between sectors and industries.

Third, in order to get an insight into one of the explanations of the gender-segregated labour market, the project is examining developments in gender segregation in the education system. The main contribution of this project is to measure developments over a long period of time in gender segregation in the labour market and – for the first time to our knowledge – in the education system.

The data

The project builds on a rich and large register data set containing year-by-year information about all individuals aged 15 and above from 1993 and onwards. In particular, we are focusing on employed individuals aged from 25 to 64 years in 1993, 2003 and 2013, corresponding to 2.1-2.3 million individuals each year. In addition to information about gender, age and labour-market status, we have detailed information about e.g. sector, industry, occupation, and length, level and field of education for each of these individuals.

In the project, we are primarily focusing on horizontal gender segregation, because this dimension tends to be more widespread than vertical gender segregation. To measure the degree of horizontal gender segregation, we calculate both the Index of Dissimilarity (ID) and the Karmel and MacLachlan Index (IP). Further, we are conducting a simple decomposition of the change in the ID index over time into a structural component that captures the effect of change in the structure of e.g. industries, a sex-ratio component that captures the effect of change in the gender balance within industries, and a residual effect. By conducting this type of decomposition, we are able to isolate the primary focus for this project, namely the sex-ratio component.

Results of this project are expected to be published during spring 2016.

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