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For Immediate Release


Karen Conner,

Press Release

US Women Still Less Likely Than Men to Be in Work or School; Gap Grows With Age


The pandemic turned many things upside down, but not the education or employment gender gap, according to a new CEPR analysis released today. Young women at all age levels are less likely than young men at all age levels to be in school or working. Furthermore, that gap widens as women enter their late 30s and early 30s.

CEPR researchers Shawn FremstadJulie Cai, and Tamara Sokolowsky used the “NEET” rate — an internationally recognized measure of an age group that is Not in Employment, Education, or Training — to find that gender differences in higher education or employment are narrowest at ages 20–24, but they widen at ages 25–29 and 30–34, mostly because “more women than men [take] on greater unpaid care obligations.”

That’s not the case in Sweden, a country with expansive work-family policies. Only about 10 percent of Swedish women ages 30–34 were not in employment or education in 2020 compared to about 29 percent of US women in the same age range. 

“Provisions (like universal childcare, paid family leave, and child allowances) in the Build Back Better and infrastructure bills currently moving through Congress would help close the gender gap and benefit working-class young men and women,” said Senior Policy Fellow Fremstad.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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