THE SECOND AGE
by Dominique Méda
and Hélène Périvier
Threshold, al. The Republic of
ideas, 112 pages, 10.50 euros.
France, evolution of the gender equality in policy, within the family or in the world of work began later, but is generally considered an irreversible although slow movement, a kind of long failover that will succeed, with time, a natural balance. This reassuring certainty, that soothes both the impatience of the feminists and the concerns of the "macho", is being hurt by the two authors one is a sociologist, another Economist of this small book against the current.
In the sphere of employment, their investigation, the emancipation of women, they say, is stopped. It is even rather retreating. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the rate of female employment (63.8 today) levelled off, and its gap with the male rate has ceased to be reduced: remains of 15 points in the range of 25-54 years. The female part-time employment exploded for fifteen years (from 12.5 to 30.8), which brings back the rate of female employment in equivalent full time at 50... On the labour market, women are ultra-majoritaires in the employment of agents of maintenance, maternal assistants, Secretaries, nurses and patient service associates. In business as in the administration, they encounter more senior positions. Finally, the sharing of domestic tasks remains the exception.
This inferiority in the world of work, has multiple implications. Being rarely transferring the main "company resources" in the household, women remain in a situation of dependency. Nationally, their underemployment is a huge waste, cut growth and increasing social spending. Absurd paradox: while the girls leave the school system more graduates than boys, it spends public money to form brains, and it still spends to subsidize their inactivity...
In effect, the French tax and social system is largely calé on the implicit model of women or rather the mother in the home. Other countries do otherwise The book presents two opposing examples. On the one hand, the State model of the Nordic countries (especially the Sweden): generous parental leave for the father to the mother, a very tight and professional network providing both the guard and the first education of young children, a high female employment rate. Nevertheless, women remain confined to professional courses lower than those of men. At the other end of the spectrum, the liberal model of the United States, where the activity rates of women exceeds the French level. Women are doing often brilliant careers, and the "glass ceiling" disintegrates much faster than in the old Europe. Other side of the coin: the digging of inequalities, very accentuated, among women graduates and non-graduates.
The ideal would be to reconcile the Nordic solidarity with American freedom and fluidity. On the reform of family policy, the embarrassment of the authors is sensitive: measures of "disincentives" to inactivity are more often than delete allocations, which may disadvantage the poor, or to modify taxation (separated from spouses tax), which will benefit the households the most affluent, as bi-actifs couples are on average richer than mono-actifs pairs. It is therefore, they say, to submit to later this part of the action, and to primarily focus effort on the redevelopment of the time of life (question exceeds that of parental leave) and especially on support of young children. The Denmark spent 2.7 of GDP, the 1.65 France: a difference of figures which reflected a deep difference of attitudes.
Coincidence: this book comes out at the time where the Insee confirms the dramatic resumption of fertility in France. This does not contradict the theory that he defends: the fact that more women opt for motherhood does not prove that they do so without consent of sacrifice on their professional lives. As the early socialization of the children, the example of the Sweden shows that it is one of the best ways to reduce the inequality of opportunity, which is widely played in the first ages of life. In short, fundamental questions of social justice, a bit forgotten in the electoral debate.