The gender unemployment gap is a rather neglected issue in current literature. Among the scarce academic research focusing on the issue the most comprehensive study is the insightful paper of Azmat et. al. (2006). They offer an extensive empirical study of the labour market dynamics behind the gender unemployment gap in OECD countries using data from the ECHP. They find among others that (a) the gender unemployment gap is the outcome of gender differences in labour market flows, both from employment into unemployment and from unemployment into employment and (b) the flows into and out from the labour force are rather irrelevant for the understanding of the gender unemployment gap. They attribute these findings to gender differences in human capital connected with attachment to the labour force interacting with labour market institutions.
In a couple of papers, Queneau and Sen (2007, 2010) test the persistence of the gender unemployment gap in a number of OECD countries. Interestingly their conclusions depend on the measure used to define the gender unemployment gap (difference or ratio of the unemployment rates). However the general conclusion is that the persistence of the gender unemployment gap is rather weak and there is a convergence trend of male and female unemployment rates.
The present study has a twofold contribution. On the one hand, it employs a different methodology that derives labour market flows from LFS data and compares the findings offering additional insights to previous research. On the other hand it offers a long run view at the evolution of the gender unemployment gap; in particular it discusses the dynamics behind the progress in narrowing the gender differences in the unemployment rates. We will identify a general pattern that fits the facts in most of our countries. It will be shown that the separation rate plays the crucial role in both the existence and the evolution of the gender unemployment gap.