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Mind the gap

More women go to work today than 40 years ago, but their pay has not kept pace with men’s. Some 58% of women on average in the OECD area worked in 2008, up from 45% in 1970, ranging from 70% of women in the Nordic countries to less than 50% in Greece, Italy, Mexico and Turkey. Indeed, with fewer women staying at home, dual-earner families are now commonplace in most OECD countries; only in Japan, Mexico and Turkey are single-income families more common. However, men are often still the main earners in dual-earner families because so many women work part-time and for lower wages than their husbands. In the Netherlands, a relatively egalitarian country, 60% of women work part time, compared with 16% of men.

In all OECD countries, the median earnings of men are higher than those of women, with an average difference of around 18%. In Japan and Korea, men’s earnings are more than 30% higher than those of women, and in Belgium and New Zealand those differences narrow to a still sizeable gap of around 10%. While unequal pay prevails partly because women are more likely to work in lower-paid occupations than men, the pay gap persists across the jobs spectrum and is in fact larger among high earners.

See www.oecd.org/gender 


©OECD Observer No 278 March 2010