From women in the workplace to income inequality, the differences between European countries are getting greater in lots of areas.
The Nordic countries do well when it comes to income inequality, with Sweden and Denmark among the most equal places in Europe. But while inequality is slowly rising in the north, Italy is slowly becoming more equal – and is already more equal than Spain and the UK. You might be surprised to learn that well-functioning, prosperous Switzerland is one of the most unequal countries in the rich-country OECD.
There are also some surprising differences in countries that should be quite similar: Denmark has one of the world’s highest cancer rates; next-door Sweden one of the lowest. The Danes’ fondness for booze and cigarettes gets the blame.
When it comes to sex and marriage, the Catholic countries of the south are less traditionalist than you might expect. Only 3.3 Italians per 1,000 got married in 2013 – a record low. The figure was the same in crisis-hit Spain. Compare that to 4.8 in Germany, 5.1 in Denmark or 5.3 in Sweden.
And women in the north are far more likely to work – 70% of Danish women and 77% of their Swedish counterparts are in the workforce. Compare this to 54% of Germans and 39% of Italians.
Italy is also doing badly at having babies. It’s worth noting that no country in Europe reaches the 2.1 births per woman needed to keep the population steady (once immigration is taken out of the equation). The French (2.01) beat the European average of 1.58, as do the Swedes (1.91) and the Danes (1.71). Spaniards, however, had only 1.32 babies per woman; Italians 1.43. But it’s not all about money – the prosperous Swiss only manage 1.54 babies per women.
Different ways of collecting and measuring data means that not all the figures are directly comparable, but it still makes for interesting reading.