High percentage of women decline to return to work after third child
Irish women are less likely than many of their EU peers to continue working after having a second or third child, new figures have revealed.
Across the EU, the difference in employment rates between women and men increases with the number of children that a person has.
On average, the employment rate for men is higher than that of women, with 72pc of males employed in the EU in 2016, compared with 61pc of women, according to data from Eurostat.
For women with one child, the employment rate actually goes up, with 71pc of women who have one child having a job. However, the share of working fathers is far higher - 85pc of men with one child had a job last year.
The figures were largely similar for women that have two children, with an average of 70pc with two children in employment.
But the dads, again, are more likely than both mothers and childless men, to be in work. Almost nine in 10 fathers of two children in the EU were in employment last year.
Looking specifically at Ireland, two-thirds of women who have two children work outside the home, compared to the 87pc of Irish men who have two children and are working.
But the birth of a third child is a major differentiator.
In Ireland just over one in two women (56pc) remain in the workplace after the birth of a third child, while 85pc of men with three or more children in Ireland are working.
In Sweden, 85pc of mothers of three work, and in Denmark the figure is 83pc.
But across the EU the numbers very widely - in Bulgaria two thirds of are out of the workforce. The EU's average share of women with three or more children who remain in the workforce drops considerably - to 55pc. For men, employment remains consistent with birth of a third child, at 84pc.
The high cost of childcare in Ireland helps account for the declining participation of mothers in the workforce. Average weekly childcare fees paid by parents in 2016/17 was €174, according to the 2016/17 Early Years Sector Profile commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and released last month.
The cost of childcare varies across the country, with parents in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown paying an average of €228 a week for full days of childcare services, while parents in Co Wicklow pay an average of €206 a week.
Irish women are also less likely than their EU peers to work part-time. Almost one in three women in the EU works part-time, compared to just one in 10 of their male counterparts.
The highest shares of women working part-time in EU can be found in the Netherlands (77pc), followed by Austria and Germany where almost half of all women work part-time.
The lowest share of both women and men working part-time was observed in Bulgaria - at just 2pc.
In Ireland, 33pc of women are working on a part-time basis, compared with 12pc of Irish men.
Overall, the data from Eurostat found that the rate of unemployment for women across the member states was slightly higher than for men, with 8.7pc of women in the EU unemployed in 2016, compared to 8.4pc of men.
In Ireland the trend is reversed, with men recording a higher rate of unemployment.