Gender Pay gap

The following table is taken from the European Commission DG employment website. It shows the average Gender pay gap in different EU27 Member States. The first striking thing is the EU wide pay gap between women and men. This is not necessarily the result of discrimination towards women, though it does suggest that women are still disadvantaged in the labour market.

Differences in educational attainment, allocation across different occupations, and different 'work-life' balances can account for gender pay gaps. In other words, there could be an average Gender Pay even in the absence of direct discrimination, i.e.: being paid less in the same sector controlling for educational attainment.

But one then has to make sense of the significant cross national variation between different EU27 countries. Italy has the lowest pay with about average gross hourly earnings for men 9% higher than for women. At the other end of the spectrum, Estonia gap is about 30%.

The traditionally more equal nordic countries are surprisingly located close to the EU average (17.5%). Continental European countries such France and Spain are also close to this average. Germany and Netherlands are clearly above while Belgium is clearly below.

It is important to note that these figures refer to inequality of earned income and not to overall inequality. Two things result from this. First, the gender pay gap is not affected by the labour force participation of women.

Second, the type of employment that women undertake has an important impact on this measure. For instance, part time employment is particularly high in Germany and the Netherlands, which certainly goes some way in making sense of their higher than average gender pay gap.

The other reason why discrimination is likely to be present is that even within sectors and controlling for most personal characteristics, gender pay gap can be significant. This can be seen by using the pretty amasing tool provided for by the DG employment website.

For instance in France, the gender pay gap for a person between 30 and 39 years old, has completed tertiary education, in the sector "Education, health and social work, other community, social, personal service activities" for a company with more than 250 workers, and occupation "Legislators, senior officials, managers and professional" has a 19,2% gender pay gap!


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