New Year’s Eve in Finland and Women Part-Time Employment in Latvia

During the New Year’s break I went to Finland to visit my friend Laura. I left on 30th of December 2014 2:30 am with one way ticket to Tallinn and a one way ticket to Helsinki the same days afternoon. I had only a back bag and my computer with me. Computer was there only because of the deadline on 5th of January, when I needed to handle in a research paper on women employment in Latvia.

This is the way I like to live. You do the warming things as traveling and seeing new places, chatting with friends and playing board-games on late evenings. And you do the lucrative things as work and studies. The interesting aspect is the increase in productivity of your work while you travel. I have no specific observations of time I spent on my studying activities during my trip, however, when I was working, I was much more focused that I am usually at my office on the regular working time. Here is a nice article on this topic – How I Build a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241761). You can also follow the calculations Jay has made for his own productivity increase during his travel.

IMG_20141231_124039 Finland 2014/ 2015 IMG_20150104_111636

This is the view I had when I came to Finland from a small hill nearby house I lived, and the day I left.

Shortly about the women part-time employment. I was particularly interested in the reasons of working part-time. But I want to start with a very basic indicator – employment rates. During the crisis the employment rates decreased both for men and women, however, faster for men. Therefore, we could argue that situation for women were more favorable during recession – the women to men employment ratio increased.

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Men 72,7 71,5 60,3 57,9 61,5 64,4 66,8
Women 63,9 65,2 60,4 59,0 60,2 61,7 63,4
Women and Man Employment rate ratio 0,879 0,912 1,002 1,019 0,979 0,958 0,949

But this was mainly because of the increase in the part-time employment for both gender. It was not in favor to women and neither to men, cause the reason working part-time was “Inability to find a full-time work”. In surveys this reason was mentioned  in 20% of cases in 2007, 27% of cases in 2008 and 43% of cases in 2009. So there is a good news and a bad news – the good news is that because of increase in part-time employment the unemployment rates did not raise in the sky, but the bad news is that the part-time employment was involuntary and it substituted the full-time employment.

In the concept of flexicurity this is not the situation we are looking for. We should promote part-time employment but it should come from work-life balance and welfare increase, not as substitution for full-time employment. As for example, in the Netherlands, approx. half of employment is part-time and from those 75% part-time workers are women. But only 10% of total part-time employment is involuntary. This has many reasons of course: the tax system, available flexible working arrangements, social system as such and so on. And I am not asking to switch our system to different or invent brand new, but as the recovery slowly moves, we shall think of the good things in labor market that we could introduce, so to give employees more freedom to manage their time. And as we just saw with the example of traveling – freedom can make you more productive!

@ agneesze

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