Attitudes on Gender Equality in the Field of Work in the EVS & WVS over time – EU / US Comparison Revisited

In an earlier post, I examined the mean differences between the EU and the US on three statements concerning gender equity in the workplace. The results have shown differences and similarities alike. In another post I could show, that the agreement-rates on this 3 statements differ widely between the members of the EU-28. They may have become more similar over time, but the data still supports a picture of heteregenous beliefs in the european union. Today I want to revisit the EU / US comparison in light of this findings.

I have to credit Jens Alber (2006) for the idea of combining an EU / US comparison with intra-EU differences. In his analysis of the “European Social Model” he could show that the sharp differences between the EU and the US seem to disappear when the EU is not seen as one homogeneous body but as individual countries with individual levels of social expenditure, education, employement and a number of other indicators. He concludes that there is no coherent “European Social Model” and that the US is well inside the range of the EU values on most of the used indicators.

Here I want to follow this line of analysis. I already could show, that there are no uniformly shared beliefs in the EU (at least on the three statements included here). The next step is to examine if the US values lie inside the EU range or if a clear difference remains.

1. “When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women”


What can be seen here is, that while there are some european countries that lie below the already very low agreement rates in the US, the agreement in the EU ranges up to ca. 70% in 1993 and still over 40% in 2010. This means, that the there are countries in europe who are further away from the EU mean, than the US.

As there is no data for the EU after 2010 yet, no safe assumption can be made on the development after this point. On the other hand there is no indication that the overall picture would have changed in the last 5 years.

2. “Both the husband and wife should contribute to household income”


Even though the first comparison showed, that the EU and the US means moved away from each other after starting in a similar area (77%-78%), the US values still lie well inside the min/max range of the EU-28 countries. Again there are countries in the EU where the agreement rates are further away from the european mean than the US rate is. On the first glance this looks even more unambiguous than in statement 1. Still it is necessary to remember, that the minimum in the EU is only this low because of the extremely low agreement in the Netherlands. If the Netherlands are left out of the analysis, the US values still lie inside the EU range, but the picture gets less distinct.

As the WVS stopped asking this question after 2004, there is no data for the US after this point. It would have been interesting to see if the agreement in the United States dropped further in the last decade or even moved out of the EU range.

3. “Having a job is the best way for a woman to be an independent person”


For statement three, there is no data for the US before 2014. Assumming that the trend for rising agreement in the EU continued after 2010 (or at least did not reverse), this is the only statement where the US beliefs clearly and distinctly differ from the EU-28.


Source: Alber, Jens (2006). The European Social Model and the United States. In: European Union Politics. Vol. 7 (3). 393-419.


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