The labour market’s role in increasing inequalities during the economic crisis

Albert Recio Andreu, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The economic crisis of 2008 led to an important increase in wage inequalities as the consequence of a drop in salaries that affected, especially, those workers who were already at the lower end of the wage distribution scale. This fall in pay is partly responsible for the growth in the “working poor”, a relatively new phenomenon in Spain.
Key points
  • 1
       Employment sectors traditionally commanding lower pay have been the most affected by wage adjustment. In the hotel and catering sector, for example, pay fell by 12.8% between 2008 and 2016.
  • 2
       The economic crisis has caused an increase in temporary and part-time jobs. Undesired part-time employment increased by over 20 percentage points between 2006 and 2017.
  • 3
       Men earned, on average, 22% more than women in 2008. This percentage reached 24% in 2013 and, although it has declined since, it has not recovered its pre-crisis values.
  • 4
       On average, the wages of extra-Community workers stand 35% below those of Spanish workers. This difference increased during the years of the economic crisis.
Evolution of part-time employment. In percentage, from 2008 to 2017
Evolution of part-time employment. In percentage, from 2008 to 2017

There has been a growth in part-time employment; a type of employment characterised precisely by a high level of wage precarity. Thus, not only have people in paid part-time work grown in number, but so has the percentage of them doing so non-voluntarily, i.e., people who work part time even though they would like to do so full time (graph 1).

Difference between the average wages of men and women. In percentage, from 2008 to 2016
Difference between the average wages of men and women. In percentage, from 2008 to 2016

Women present higher rates of unemployment, of seasonality, of part-time employment and a greater presence at lower levels of the labour hierarchy.

The average wage difference existing between the set of men and that of women tended to grow during the most acute years of the crisis, and although it subsequently declined, in 2016 it still exceeded the levels of 2006 (graph 2). According to these data, in 2016 women were earning, on average, around 22% less than men.

Classification

Author

Albert Recio Andreu , Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Tags

Subject areas

Related content

Article

More female employment than ever, but the gender gap persists

The gender gap in employment prior to covid-19 stood at around 16.5%. This article assesses the impact of economic crises and analyses the evolution of female employment between 1980 and 2017.

Article

Are intermediate jobs disappearing? The myth of labour polarisation in Europe

Is labour polarisation occurring in Europe? This study, prior to the covid-19 crisis, shows that in Spain, in barely 25 years, employment in higher-quality occupations has almost doubled.

Infodata

Inequality in income distribution

Between the years 2007 and 2017, inequality in Spain increased, with a Gini Coeficient (not including social transfers) that has increased in value from 45 to 50

Review

The high price of inequality: lessons on the costs and consequences of child poverty in advanced societies

The books reviewed here consider why it is important for everyone, and not just for the most vulnerable, to achieve more egalitarian societies.

Article

The enduring impact of the economic crisis on child poverty

Despite the economic recovery, in 2018 three out of every ten children were living in a situation of anchored poverty. Poverty during childhood has consequences throughout life. We analyse its impact.

You may also find interesting

Article

Employed but poor

Employed but poor

Social Inclusion

“In-work poverty” has the greatest impact on women and young people, and this was the case before the covid-19 crisis. This article shows that between 2010 and 2014, the median wage fell by 5.2%.

Article

Work-family balance in the summer, a bad deal for women

Work-family balance in the summer, a bad deal for women

Social Inclusion

How do families solve the problem of balancing work and family life when school finished for the summer? Women bear the brunt in the labour sphere.

Article

What influences people’s social position most: their family background or their skills?

What influences people’s social position most: their family background or their skills?

Social Inclusion

We analyse the relative influence of the family background and the skills of each person on social mobility. Are there differences between the Nordic countries and those in southern Europe such as Italy and Spain?