Gender in European Public Procurement: Extent, Distribution, and Impacts

Fazekas, M., Kazmina, Y. and Wachs, J. (2020). Gender in European Public Procurement: Extent, Distribution, and Impacts. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2020.

A crucially under-documented gender gap is the difference in public procurement spending that flows to companies led or owned by men vs. women. The role of gender in public procurement is of wide interest given that public procurement represents about a third of government spending in OECD countries. As country-level gender data on labour force participation and wages do not account for gender differences in public procurement, there is a need for large-scale administrative data-driven assessment. Hence, this study sets out to precisely estimate the prevalence and distribution of women-managed companies in European public procurement markets and to provide insights on the potential policy determinants and impacts of women-run businesses. We merge a largescale EU-wide public procurement database (TED) with gendered rm management data (BvD) for 2006-2016. We find that 26.3% of government suppliers’ managers are women and that for 16.5% of suppliers of large value contracts across the EU, the management is majority women. We could establish that public procurement, on average, reflects gender gaps in the wider economy with a small deviation of 2-5% between economywide and public procurement-specific women management shares. Larger differences exist within specific countries and sectors, highlighting opportunities for focused policy interventions. We also find that contracts won by companies with majority women boards are 2% less likely to win single-bidder contracts, controlling for a range of potential confounding factors, suggesting lower corruption risk for these type of contracts.

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