Large wage gap between women and men in European comparison

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Large wage gap between women and men in European comparison




Euro currency bills are pictured at the Croatian National Bank in Zagreb


© Reuters/ANTONIO BRONIC
Euro currency bills are pictured at the Croatian National Bank in Zagreb


Berlin (Reuters) – According to a DIW study, the wage gap between women and men in Germany is one of the largest in Europe.

This applies in general and in comparison with countries in which a similar number of women work, as the Berlin institute announced on Wednesday. Germany is lagging behind the northern European countries Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, criticized DIW expert Julia Schmieder. Women in Germany earned an average of 19 percent less than men in 2019 – more recent data are not available. This so-called gender pay gap has hardly decreased in Germany for years.

The DIW analysis shows that in a European comparison, a higher female employment rate usually goes hand in hand with a larger gender pay gap. The background to this is that when the employment rate is high, many low-income women are also included in the statistics. Conversely, the difference in earnings in countries with low female employment rates is rather small, because often only women with high wage potential work at all.

The DIW researchers cite Italy as an example, which has the third lowest gender pay gap in Europe after Luxembourg and Romania with a gender pay gap of 5.5 percent. There, however, only a little more than half of the women are gainfully employed, whereas in Germany it is almost three quarters. According to the DIW, 34 percent of the population in Italy agree with the statement “It is the man’s job to earn money, the woman is responsible for the household and the family”, but only 13.5 percent in Germany.

“However, if you only look at the 14 European countries with a female employment rate between 70 and 80 percent, Germany does not do any better,” emphasized the DIW experts. Here, too, the gender pay gap is one of the largest, only Austria and Estonia are worse off. In Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden even more women are employed than in Germany, and yet the wage gap with men is often much smaller. Family policy in Germany needs more gender equality elements, said Schmieder. She advocated extending partner months for parental allowance, introducing family working hours and reforming the splitting of spouses, “which in its current form thwarted equality in the labor market”.

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