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Taking the Spanish case as a departure point, this paper explores a variety of causes for the slowdown in female employment growth in Italy over recent years. The paper analyses the peculiarities of the Italian labour market, with a higher propensity to inactivity than in other countries, as well as the generally low educational levels among the Italian population and the pervasive presence of the black economy. It goes on to examine institutional and political features, such as the organisation of social policies, the political weakness of feminism, the role of the Catholic Church, family networks and the North-South duality (which is particularly extreme with regard to gender equality). The features studied relate to each other in a logic which could account for the divergent paths of the social position of women in Italy and Spain. The article is based in Labour Force and Multiscopo surveys, as well as on interviews with Italian social policy experts.
italy; spain; gender equality; female employment; social policy; politics; family networks; gender-equality; regimes; care