- Young and highly educated women leave rural and peripheral areas and move to regions with better access to services of general interest, resulting in unbalanced gender ratios of regions and affecting the demographic development, the labour force, image, social cohesion and competitiveness of a region.
- Male dominated regions can be found in peripheral and rural regions in the Nordic countries, and Eastern European countries as well as in Spain and former Eastern Germany, with the exclusion of the metropolitan area of Berlin. Capital regions, France, the Benelux and the UK have an overrepresentation of women.
- Women have higher unemployment rates in Southern EU regions and are more likely to migrate than men.
Observations for policy
An unbalanced gender ratio indicates socio-economic disparities. It is assumed that a shortage of young women has negative impacts on the demographic development, the labour force, image of the region and the social cohesion of rural communities.
Young and highly educated women are particularly prone to leave peripheral regions. This is believed to have a negative effect on the liveability, attractiveness and competiveness of areas. Territories affected by the out-migration of young women differ significantly from other regions in their resource endowment, geographical and demographical characteristics, cultural contexts and social and economic structures.
There are numerous factors for people to migrate, for example education, the labour market, or the regional economic situation. Culture and gender roles also influence age- and gender-selective migration processes. In general three waves of migration of young women can be identified related to the life course;
Learning mobility below the age of 18,
Labour mobility between the ages of 18-29,
Consolidation and family planning between the ages of 30-35.
In general the more peripheral regions within Europe and within countries have a surplus of men, whereas the urban areas have a surplus of women. Large disparities can be noted between major urban areas and their surroundings.
European policies promote a balanced development of regions, which contributes to territorial cohesion. The 2020 European Ageing Report of the European Commission shows that priority should be given to the demographic challenges with a new sense of urgency in light of the financial crisis. Due to the crisis more women tend to migrate than men. Unemployment rates tend to be higher among women in Southern European regions, which forces them to leave their home-region as mentioned in the 6th Cohesion Report.
The Territorial Agenda 2020 and the Europe 2020 strategy also address demographic issues. They indicate that the competitiveness and attractiveness of a region can be challenged due to a shrinking population, ageing and thus an unbalanced gender ratio.
The map illustrates the gender ratios per NUTS 3 region. The gender ratio is illustrated as number of women per 100 coeval men. Regions in blue have more men than women, whereas there is an overrepresentation of women in the pink coloured regions.
There are several reasons for unbalanced gender ratios in European regions. Peripheral regions within countries show in general a surplus of men. In the rural areas of Poland, former Eastern Germany or the outer most regions of Sweden and Finland women left towards the urban areas for jobs and more services of general interest. At the same time are there regions with surpluses of women, because they have a higher life expectancy, this is for example the case in rural parts of France.
Concepts and methods
The gender ratio shows the number of women per 100 coeval men. An amount of less than 100 shows overrepresentation of men in a region, above 100 shows a surplus of women.