Gender Pay Gap in the Western Balkan Countries

The Western Balkans is among the regions with the most worrisome labour market indicators worldwide. While low job creation and high unemployment remain the problems of major concern for the public and policymakers in the countries of the region, some key structural labour market issues remain relatively marginalized. This is certainly the case with the two key gender gaps – gender employment gap and gender pay gap.

To fully understand how a concrete labour market really functions, it is necessary to analyze men and women in their societal and familial contexts, rather than to look at the isolated and sexless individuals. The research effort presented in this book deals dominantly with the gender pay gap, but it sheds some light on gender employment gap as well. Furthermore, it provides hints on how gender imbalances in the labour market impact the overall labour market performance in the three analyzed countries – Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia(FYROM).

The specific motivation for studying the gender pay gap in these countries can be found in the hypothesis that low employment rates of women (that spill over into low overall employment rates) might be due to the large gender pay gap, which itself could be a consequence of various forms of discrimination or gender inequalities. However, the findings of our research are quite complex, nuanced and often country-specific. Still, some synthetic hints and cautious generalizations could be found in introductory and concluding chapters of this book.

The research project was carried out throughout 2012 as a partnership between the Foundation for the Advancement of Economics (FREN) from Belgrade, Serbia, and the University American College (UACS), from Skopje, Macedonia, within the frameworkof the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans (RRPP), run by the University of Fribourg upon a mandate of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. It has been, under my oversight, a collaborative effort of MSc. Sonja Avlijaš (doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics), Dr. Sunčica Vujić (Assistant Professor at the University of Bath), MSc. Marko Vladisavljević (FREN) and Nevena Ivanović (UN Women Serbia), with the support of Biljana Apostolova (external researcher with the UACS). Administrative coordination was provided by Mr. Aleksandar Radivojević of FREN. We are grateful for the support of Dr. Marjan Petreski (Associate Professor at the UACS) throughout the project. This research could not be possible without the invaluable assistance we got from the three national statistical offices. In Serbia, the Labour Force Survey data have been kindly provided by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, and our gratitude goes to the director Dragan Vukmirović and Mr. Vladan Božanić, head of the Department for LFS, as well as to their capable staff. In Montenegro, our gratitude goes to Mr. Gojko Dragaš and Ms. Ana Vasiljević, whose assistance went beyond the highest standards of professionalism. In Macedonia, we would like to thank Ms. Violeta Krsteva and Ms. Daneila Avramovska for their invaluable assistance.

Our research results, either in preliminary or in final form, were presented and discussed on three occasions – in Podgorica on 18 December 2012, in Skopje on 21 December 2012, and in Belgrade, at the final conference of the project, on 22 February 2013. We are grateful to all participants who provided their comments, shared their views and insights and helped us sharpen or refine our arguments. We are very thankful to Professor Miriam Beblo from Universität Hamburg, who served as an external mentor for the project and provided us with the timely and valuable comments; and to Dr. Nikica Mojsoska-Blaževski (Associate Professor at UACS) and Ms. Ana Krsmanović (Assistant Minister of Finance, Montenegro) for their insights and comments.

Professor Mihail Arandarenko,

Chairman of the Board,

Foundation for the Advancement of Economics, Belgrade