Do Women in Female-Dominated Occupations Exit the Labour Market More?: Evidence from Italy, Spain, Denmark and the UK


Literature on sex occupational segregation has typically focused on the micro and macro determinants of it, on mobility patterns over the life course, on implications of segregation and mobility for gender inequalities. Rarely the link between sex-type of occupations and women's risk of labour market interruptions over family formation has been explored. In this article we analyse whether women who are working in female-dominated, male-dominated or integrated occupations have more or less chances to remain attached to the labour market, controlling for qualifications, class, sector and contract positions. By drawing from ECHP, and comparing Italy, Spain, Denmark and the UK, we consider whether the effect of the sex-type of occupations varies across countries with different institutional and cultural configurations. We find that, ceteris paribus, only in the UK the sex-composition of an occupation matters: women in female occupations are more likely to move to inactivity than women in mixed or male occupations. In the other countries considered the main determinants of women's labour market continuity lie elsewhere. In Italy what matters most is the sector of employment (public vs. private). In Spain the sector is relevant too, but also class and the type of contract held (permanent vs. temporary). In Denmark, where policies and culture universally support maternal employment, women's transitions to housework are largely independent of their human capital and their location in the labour market.