Social Indicators Research

, Volume 110, Issue 3, pp 927–950 | Cite as

Are UNDP Indices Appropriate to Capture Gender Inequalities in Europe?



This study critically investigates the suitability of United Nations’ composite indices and other related measures—among which the Gender Inequality Index just released in 2010—to capture gender inequalities in the context of “highly developed” countries, focusing on the case of Europe. Our results indicate that many of the gender gaps in health and education variables have either vanished or even reversed, thus questioning their appropriateness to capture women’s disadvantage in Europe and inviting to construct region-specific measures. Alternatively, parliamentary representation and labor force participation are variables with large gender gaps that highlight important dimensions where women disadvantage prevails. Different cross-section and cross-time associations between economic growth and gender equality are generally not statistically significant—or at most weakly correlated—at European level. This is basically due to the fact that the gender gaps included in UNDP gender-related indices reached their normatively desirable values long ago, therefore leaving no room for further improvement.


Gender inequality United Nations Development Program Indices Europe 



Financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Education “Juan de la Cierva” Research Grant Program and research projects ERC-2009-StG-240978, CSO2008-00654 and ECO2010-21668-C03-02 is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Estudis DemogràficsBellateraSpain

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