FES | Federación Española de Sociología

Caminos desiguales. Mujeres en Italia y España

GT 12 Sociología del Género

Constanza Tobío Soler (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)


Sociología del Género GT 12

In welfare regimes typologies,ItalyandSpainare usually grouped together because of the central role played by the family in the welfare mix. Italian female employment was higher than in Spain during earlier decades, but since the 90s, the situation has reversed, due not only to a rapid increase in Spanish female employment, but to a stagnation in the labour market participation of Italian women.

The article explores the multiplicity of factors that explain the observed “sorpasso” (overtaking), based on the similarities and differences between the two countries. Among the commonalities, it is worth highlighting the relatively low female employment rates, low fertility rates, limited social policies and the strength of family networks. Among the differences, we might point to the political failure of Social Democratic parties inItaly, the strength of civil society against the weakness of the state and the persistent divide between the prosperous North and the underdeveloped South.

Taking the Spanish case as a departure point, the paper explores a variety of causes that can explain the slowdown of female employment growth inItaly. Firstly, the paper analyses the peculiarities of the Italian labour market, with a higher propensity to inactivity than in other countries likeSpainorFrance. Generally low educational levels among the Italian population and the pervasive presence of the black economy appear to be relevant factors. Secondly, it examines the institutional aspects and the characteristics of the organization of social policies in Italy, focused on health and pensions, as well as other factors such as the political weakness of the feminist agenda, the role of the Catholic Church in shaping the Italian welfare system, the strength and limits of family networks, and the North-South duality, particularly extreme with regard to gender equality. The various aspects studied relate to each other in a logic which explains the divergent paths of the social position of women inItalyandSpain. The article is based in Labor Force Surveys and Multiscopo surveys, as well as on interviews with Italian social policy experts.

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