Gender pay gap statistics
Data from February 2021.
Planned article update: 8 March 2022.
In 2019, women's gross hourly earnings were on average 14.1 % below those of men in the EU.
In 2019, the highest gender pay gap in the EU was recorded in Estonia (21.7 %) and the lowest in Luxembourg (1.3 %).
This article provides a brief overview of gender pay gap (GPG) statistics, including the unadjusted gender pay gap used to monitor imbalances in earnings between men and women. The unadjusted gender pay gap 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. It is calculated for enterprises with 10 or more employees.
Gender pay gap levels vary significantly across EU
For the economy as a whole, in 2019, women's gross hourly earnings were on average 14.1 % below those of men in the European Union (EU-27) and 14.9 % in the euro area (EA-19). Across Member States, the gender pay gap varied by 20.4 percentage points, ranging from 1.3 % in Luxembourg to 21.7 % in Estonia (Figure 1).
Part-time versus full-time employment
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 2019, the gender pay gap for part-time workers varied from -5.1 % in Italy to 22.0 % in Croatia. A negative gender pay gap means that, on average, women's gross hourly earnings are higher than those of men. This is often due to a selection bias, especially when the employment rate is lower for women than for men: women engaging in the labour market may have comparatively higher skills and education levels that men. For full-time workers, pay gaps varied also widely in the EU Member States, ranging from -1.6 % in Italy to 24.1 % in Latvia.
Gender pay gap 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 (Table 1). The gender pay gap might increase with age as a result of the career interruptions women may experience during their working life.
Highest gender pay gap in financial and insurance activities
The gender pay gap in financial and insurance activities is higher than in the business economy as a whole
A breakdown for the different sectors of the economy also reveals interesting patterns (Table 2). In all EU Member States, except Belgium and Spain, 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 2019, the gender pay gap in financial and insurance activities varied from 6.6 % in Belgium to 38.3 % in Czechia. Within the business economy as a whole, the highest gender pay gap was recorded in Estonia (23.2 %) and the lowest in Sweden (8.7 %).
It is also interesting to note the economic sectors for which a significant number of Member States recorded negative gender gaps. Nine Member States registered negative gender pay gaps in the water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (NACE Rev. 2 section E) and thirteen in the construction industry (NACE Rev. 2 section F).
Gender pay gap higher in the private sector
In 2019, the majority of the EU countries (for which data are available) recorded a higher gender pay gap (in absolute terms) in the private sector than in the public sector. This might be due to the fact that, in most countries, pay is determined by transparent wage grids that apply equally to men and women. The gender pay gap varied in the private sector from 8.9 % in Belgium to 22.9 % in Germany, and in the public sector from -0.4 % in Romania to 19.7 % in Latvia.
Possible causes of the unadjusted gender pay gap
As an unadjusted indicator, the gender pay gap gives an overall picture of the differences between men and women in terms of earnings and measures a concept which is broader than the concept of "equal pay for work of equal value". A part of the difference in earnings of men and women can be explained by differences in the average characteristics of male and female employees. In its methodological study, Eurostat carried out the decomposition of the unadjusted gender pay gap based on the 2014 data of the Structure of Earnings Survey.
From reference year 2006 onwards, the 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 2014 and 2018. Eurostat computed the gender pay gap for these years on this basis. For the intermediate years (2015-2017) countries provide to Eurostat gender pay gap estimates benchmarked on the SES results.
Source data for tables and graphs
Reducing the gender pay gap is one of the key priorities of gender policies at both EU and national levels. At EU level, the European Commission prioritised "reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women" as one of the key areas in the framework of the A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025. The unadjusted gender pay gap indicator is used to monitor imbalances in earnings between men and women.
- Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (sdg_05_20)
- 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)
- Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (earn_grgpg)
- Gender pay gap in unadjusted form - Nace Rev. 2 (ESMS metadata file - earn_grgpg2_esms)
- Structure of earnings survey (ESMS metadata file - main indicators)
- A decomposition of the unadjusted gender pay gap using Structure of Earnings Survey data (Collection: Statistical working papers)
- 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.