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Equal Pay Day: How bad is the gender pay gap in your country?

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Commuters walk across London Bridge to the City of London August 7, 2013.
Commuters walk across London Bridge to the City of London August 7, 2013. -
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On November 4, 2019, women across Europe effectively stop getting paid.

That’s because, on average, women in the European Union earn 16% less than their male counterparts. So, with 16% of the working year remaining, the continent marks Equal Pay Day.

Of course, the disparity in pay between men and women across is not a simple issue: women are more likely to be primary care-givers in their families, and - historically - have been more likely to work in sectors of the economy that are lower paid generally.

But they are also far more likely to be confronted with the corporate glass ceiling, to be passed over for promotions by male bosses, and to be paid less for doing the same work as men.

The pay disparity between genders varies widely across Europe - with some of the worst gaps found in countries with the strongest economies - but what doesn’t vary is the fact that the 16% figure has barely moved over the past five years.

"Frauentickets"

On the 18 March 2019, Berlin’s train company announced that tickets would cost 21% less for women than for men. The announcement came with a stern warning: Men that tried to travel using "Frauentickets" would be treated as fare-dodgers and fined €60.

Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe was making a point as Germany marked Equal Pay Day, which is held earlier in the year in the country, it remains one of the worst countries in Europe in terms of the gender pay gap, with women earning on average 21% less than men.

After Estonia and the Czech Republic, Germany is the worst country in Europe for equal pay, followed by Austria, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, where the government estimates the gender pay gap at 17.3%.

Though there are some exceptions (Romania’s gender pay gap is 3.5% and Italy’s 5.3%), Europe does not perform well generally when it comes to equal pay.

It points out, though, that the headline figure can be misleading. In countries where the female employment rate is low, the pay gap tends to be lower than average.

Meanwhile, a high pay gap can demonstrate a labour market in which women are more concentrated in a restricted number of sectors and/or professions, or in which a significant proportion of women work part-time.

Close to zero

It also varies across age groups. In 2019, it was revealed that the UK’s gender pay gap among full-time employees was 8.9%, similar to the figure in 2018 and a decline of just 0.6% since 2012. If you include those in part time work it is 17.3%, compared to 17.9% a year earlier.

But according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, while there remains a large disparity between men and women over the age of 40, for age groups under 40 the gender pay gap for full-time employees is close to zero.

“One of the reasons for differences in the gender pay gap between age groups is that women over 40 years are more likely to work in lower-paid occupations and, compared with younger women, are less likely to work as managers, directors or senior officials,” its 2019 report says.

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