In 2021, 82% of mothers in Switzerland were economically active, according to data published by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) this week.
The rate of mothers working in 2021 (82%) was 22 percentage points higher than it was in 1991 (60%). At the same time fathers were not working at a significantly lower rate. In 2021, 97% of fathers with children aged 15 or under were in the workforce, compared to 99% in 1991. Two working parents has become the overwhelming norm in Switzerland.
However, much of the work undertaken by women remains part time. 78% of working mothers were working part time. At the same time part time work has moved closer to full time. The portion of mothers working between 50% and 89% of full time moved from 26% to 45% between 1991 and 2021, while the portion working less than 50% fell from 51% to 33%.
After the birth of their first child, one in nine economically active mothers in Switzerland leaves the labour market and the proportion of part-time work doubles.
In Switzerland, the proportion of mothers participating in the labour market is significantly higher than the European average for those with young children. 75% of Swiss mothers with a child under the age of 6 were employed in 2021. The EU average was 67%, a8 percentage points lower. The highest rate was in Portugal (84%). However, Switzerland’s rate falls to 78% when the youngest child is between 6 and 11, only 3 percentage points higher than the EU average (75%).