Gender pay gap widens for working parents

The average pay gap between men and women is greater in families with one or more children, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Its Closing the gender gap: act now report found that, in OECD countries men earn on average 16% more than women in similar full-time jobs, while, at the top of the pay scale, men earn on average 21% more than women.

The average pay gap between men and women widens to 22% in families with one or more children. For couples without children, the gap is 7%. Overall, the wage penalty for having children is on average 14%, with Korea showing the greatest gap, while Italy and Spain have almost none.

According to the OECD, improving the tax and benefit system for working parents would help to tackle the gap. After accounting for childcare, more than half (52%) of a family’s second wage is effectively taxed away. This proportion rises to 65% and above in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, the US and the UK.

Part-time work among women is most common in Austria, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK. Taking into account part-time work, the gender pay gap in take-home pay doubles in many European countries, and triples in Ireland and the Netherlands.

The research also found that, having worked less in formal employment, but having carried out much more unpaid work at home, many women will retire on lower pensions and see out their final years in poverty.

Angel Gurria, secretary-general at the OECD, said: “Closing the gender gap must be a central part of any strategy to create more sustainable economies and inclusive societies.

“Governments should make further progress in the access and quality of education for all, improve tax and benefits systems, and make childcare more affordable, in order to help women contribute more to economic growth and a fairer society.”