United Kingdom: gender pay gap remains over 25 years

(AFP) – The pay gap between men and women remains significant and has barely narrowed in 25 years in the United Kingdom, according to a study published Monday that questions the persistence of social norms in particular.

“On average, a woman of working age in the United Kingdom earned 40% less than a man of the same age group in 2019”, i.e. before the pandemic, underlines this study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

This big difference is due in particular to the fact that women work about 10% less than men and work eight hours less per week.

At this level of 40%, the pay gap between men and women is 13 percentage points lower than its level in the mid-1990s, but three quarters of this reduction can be explained by “the rapid increase in educational attainment of women.” “.

Those of working age are now 5% more likely than a man of the same age to have a university degree, when they were 5% less likely 25 years ago, details IFS.

If we exclude this advancement in educational level, the pay gap has hardly changed in 25 years, underlines the IFS.

In terms of hourly wages, women earn an average of 19% less per hour, compared to 24% less in 1995, but this figure has hardly changed since 2005.

In addition, the hourly wage gap has narrowed for low-skilled workers, especially thanks to an increase in the minimum wage, but has widened for those with secondary or higher education.

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The pay gap “seems to be driven by unstable social norms” but based on experiences abroad, the IFS study believes it is “possible to progress.”

In particular, thanks to policies that limit the distinction between social roles associated with men and women, such as “unpaid” work in the home.

The IFS concludes, “Even expensive policies like providing more free childcare can pay off if they help ensure that men and women are employed in their most productive roles. “

“The gap between men and women on all wages is almost twice as high in the United Kingdom as in other countries, which suggests that it is largely influenced by political and cultural context”, said Mark Franks, an official at the Nuffield Foundation. Opponents say – poverty NGO.

“For example, women tend to care for children more, even when they earn the most in the household, and other countries have more liberal parental leave policies than the UK,” he says.

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