Gender pay gap statistics

Data from March 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database Planned update of the article: December 2016.
Figure 1: The unadjusted gender pay gap, 2014 (difference between average gross hourly earnings of male and female employees as % of male gross earnings)
Source: Eurostat (tsdsc340)
Figure 2: The unadjusted gender pay gap by working profile (%), 2014
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2wt)

This article shows how gender inequalities in terms of pay vary widely among the Member States of the European Union (EU) and among groups of employees.

The unadjusted gender pay pap (GPG) is an important indicator used within the European employment strategy (EES) to monitor imbalances in wages between men and women. It is defined as the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and women expressed as a percentage of the average gross hourly earnings of men.

Main statistical findings

Gender pay gap levels

The gender pay gap varies significantly across EU Member States

For the economy as a whole[1], in 2014, women's gross hourly earnings were on average 16.1 % below those of men in the European Union (EU-28) and 16.5% in the euro area (EA-18). Across Member States, the gender pay gap varied by 25.4 percentage points, ranging from 2.9 % in Slovenia to 28.3 % in Estonia (Figure 1).

Table 1: The unadjusted gender pay gap by age (%), 2014
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2ag)
Table 2: The unadjusted gender pay gap by economic activity (%), 2014
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2)
Table 3: The unadjusted gender pay gap by economic control (%), 2014
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2ct)

There are various reasons for the existence and size of a gender pay gap and they may differ strongly between Member States, e.g. kind of jobs held by women, consequences of breaks in career or part-time work due to childbearing, decisions in favour of family life, etc. Moreover, the proportion of women working and their characteristics differ significantly between countries, particularly because of institutions and attitudes governing the balance between private and work life which impact on the careers and thus the pay of women.

By working profile (part-time versus full-time)

Pay gaps can also be analysed from the perspective of part-time or full-time employment. Information at this level of detail is not available, however, for all EU Member States (Figure 2). In 2014, the gender pay gap for part-time workers varied from -10.5 % in Malta to 32.1 % in Croatia. A negative gender pay gap means that on average women's gross hourly earnings are higher than those of men. For full-time workers, pay gaps varied also widely in the EU Member States, ranging from 1.0 % in Italy to 20.4 % in Slovakia.

By age

The gender pay gap is generally much lower for young employees

The gender pay gap is generally much lower for new labour market entrants and tends to widen with age. However, those differences over age groups can have different patterns across the countries. The gender pay gap might increase with age as a result of the career interruptions women experience during their working life, particularly older women unable to benefit from specific equality measures which did not yet exist when they started to work.

By economic activity

The gender pay gap in the financial and insurance activities is higher than in the business economy as a whole

After analysing gender pay gaps at the level of the whole economy (except public administration and defence and compulsory social security), a breakdown for the different sectors of the economy also reveals interesting patterns (Table 2).

In all EU Member States, the gender pay gap in the financial and insurance activities (NACE Rev. 2 section K) is higher than in the business economy as a whole (NACE Rev. 2 aggregate B to N). In 2014, the gender pay gap in the financial and insurance activities varied from 15.8 % in Croatia to 42.3 % in Latvia. Within the business economy as a whole, the highest gender pay gap was recorded in Estonia (27.4 %) and the lowest in Slovenia (6.7 %).

It is also interesting to note the economic sectors for which a significant number of Member States recorded negative gender gaps. Fourteen Member States registered negative gender pay gaps in the water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (NACE Rev. 2 section E) and twelve Member States in the construction industry (NACE Rev. 2 section F).

Pay gaps and economic control

In 2014, the majority of the EU countries (for which data are available) recorded a higher gender pay gap in the private sector than in the public sector. This might be due to the fact that within the public sector, in most countries, employees are protected by collective pay agreements and other similar contracts establishing pay. On the other hand, the opposite was observed in six EU countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Romania, Finland and Sweden. In the case of Sweden, however, the gender pay gap in the private sector was only 0.5 percentage points higher then in public sector. The gender pay gap varied in the private sector from 4.2 % in Romania to 27.3 % in Portugal, and in the public sector from -3.2 % in Belgium to 21.4 % in the United Kingdom.


Data sources and availability

From reference year 2006 onwards, the new unadjusted gender pay gap is based on the methodology of the Structure of earnings survey (SES) according to Regulation (EC) No 530/1999. The SES is carried out with a four-yearly periodicity. The most recent reference years available for the SES are 2002, 2006 and 2010. Eurostat computed the gender pay gap for these years on this basis. For the intermediate years (2007-2009) countries provide to Eurostat gender pay gap estimates benchmarked on the SES results.

The gender pay gap in unadjusted form represents the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees and of female paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees.

The indicator has been defined as unadjusted (e.g. not adjusted according to individual characteristics that may explain part of the earnings difference) because it should give an overall picture of gender inequalities in terms of pay. The gender pay gap is the consequence of various inequalities (structural differences) in the labour market such as different working pattern, differences in institutional mechanisms and systems of wage setting. Consequently, the pay gap is linked to a number of legal, social and economic factors which go far beyond the single issue of equal pay for equal work.

While the size of the unadjusted gender pay gap certainly gives an indication of the situation women face in the labour market, it generally makes sense to take into account other labour market indicators as well to get a fuller picture of the possible reasons underlying the pay gap in a particular Member State.

Context

The gender pay gap is also a key indicator in the framework of the Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019 of the European Commission. In its work programme, the Commission has reaffirmed its commitment to continue its work to promote equality between men and women. One of the thematic priority areas is reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (tsdsc340)

Database

Earnings
Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (earn_grgpg)
Gender pay gap in unadjusted form - Nace rev.2 (earn_grgpg2)
Gender pay gap in unadjusted form - Nace rev.1.1 (earn_grgpg1)

Dedicated section

Earnings
Gender equality

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures on this page (MS Excel)

Other information

External links

Notes

  1. Here defined as industry, construction and services except public administration and defence and compulsory social security: NACE Rev. 2 Sections B to S with the exception of Section O.