Inés P Murillo-Huertas, Raúl Ramos, Hipólito Simón, and Raquel Simón-Albert reflect on their paper, “Is multidimensional precarious employment higher for women?” recently published in the Journal of Industrial Relations.
Precarious employment has become a relevant issue in both labor and political contexts. It is directly associated with poorer quality jobs and disproportionately affects groups such as women, whose relatively worse working conditions have been widely highlighted. However, there is no consensus on how to measure this phenomenon and there is a clear lack of studies that consider together both monetary and non-monetary aspects when analyzing the situation of women in the labor market.
Therefore, in our study we propose to analyze the female labor conditions from a novel approach following the methodology proposed by Sabina Alkire and James Foster (2011) for the case of Spain. This country is a very interesting case given the dysfunctional nature of its labor market, the high levels of precariousness observed there, and the worse relative working conditions of females (including lower employment rates and wages, higher incidence of involuntary part-time, and a significant sectoral and occupational segregation).
This new perspective of analysis, with few precedents in the labor field, is based on the use of multidimensional indicators that contain information on a wide range of monetary and non-monetary labor dimensions in order to identify employment deficiencies. Thus, six individual indicators of potential employment deficiencies grouped into three dimensions following the OECD criteria for measuring job quality have been considered (labor income, job stability, and other job characteristics).
Given its flexibility, this methodology allows for an in-depth analysis of the components of precarious work and to know the incidence (how many employees are affected) and the intensity (the number of deficiencies that precarious jobs exhibit on average) of the phenomenon, and also its scope (a combination of incidence and intensity). The decomposition of the multidimensional indexes of precarious employment also makes it possible to disaggregate the information and check the contribution of each dimension and the indicators that contain it.
The evidence shows that multidimensional precariousness is significantly higher for women than for men. Actually, nearly half of employed women are in a situation of multidimensional precarious employment and their jobs have, on average, an incidence of three labor deficiencies at the same time, with those in part-time jobs or in the primary sector suffering the most severe precariousness. This greater precariousness is mainly explained by their greater occupational and sectoral segregation and by their greater presence in part-time jobs, although a higher incidence of precariousness is observed even in comparison with men with the same observable characteristics.
All in all, the results obtained show that the multidimensional precariousness in the Spanish labor market is determined to a greater extent by the precariousness of women, making it a mainly female phenomenon, and highlight the need to delve deeper into a phenomenon that is complex and heterogeneous and affects mostly to females.