NZ Has The Lowest Gender Pay Gap of Developed Countries

Recent data put out by the OECD has found the developed countries that lag behind in pay equality.

The data is based on Full-time employee wages and the gender wage gap is unadjusted and defined as the difference between male and female median wages divided by the male median wages. It doesn’t discriminate between jobs, so it will be comparing John Key’s wage to a Burger King employee’s but we can still get an idea of what’s happening.

South Korea is the biggest culprit for pay discrepancy. The country which is the world’s 15th largest economy also has the longest working hours in all OECD countries, and even then they don’t use all their holidays. What I’m trying to say is, South Koreans either have a great work ethic, or they’re suckers for punishment. Sorry, I digress.

Infographic: The Gender Pay Gap In Developed Nations Visualised | Statista

Japan was also another major culprit with women earning 26.6% less than men. Our friends over the ditch in Australia aren’t much better with a gap of 18%, slightly higher than USA’s 17.9%

According to the Financial Times “Even when they are employed in the same industry, have the same education and the same experience, women are likely to be paid less. Catalyst, a non-profit organisation that researches women and business in the US, has found that women with MBAs are paid, on average, $4,600 less in their first job than men.”

New Zealand has the smallest pay gap of developed countries with 5.6%.

Statistics NZ has a far gloomier outlook, using the median hourly earnings shows that our gap is sitting at 11.8%. This means that a typical male earned about 12 percent more for an hour’s work than a typical female.

Gender Pay Gap

The graph shows the gender pay gap has generally been decreasing since 1998, but has fluctuated in the last few years. Although it is difficult to say exactly what caused the decrease, the periods of strongest decrease (1998–2002 and 2008–12) are largely in line with periods of higher growth in median hourly pay for females than for males.

From an international standpoint, looking at the OECD data we’re doing well compared to everyone else. But on a granular local level we still have a way to go.

Overall, from the June 1998 to the June 2015 quarter the percentage increase in hourly pay for females was 76% percent, while for males it was 67.2% percent.

From an international standpoint, looking at the OECD data we’re doing well compared to everyone else. But on a granular local level we still have a way to go.

So what does the OECD suggest we do to change things?

  • Greater gender equality in educational attainment has a strong positive effect on economic growth;
  • Stereotyping needs to be addressed in educational choices at school from a young age. For example, adapt teaching strategies and material to increase engagement of boys in reading and of girls in maths and science; encourage more girls to follow science, engineering and maths courses in higher education and seek employment in these fields;
  • Good and affordable childcare is a key factor for better gender equality in employment. But change also has to happen at home as the bulk of housework and caring is left to women in many countries. Policy can support such change, for example, through parental leave policies that explicitly include fathers.
  • Support policies for women-owned enterprises need to target all existing firms, not just start-ups and small enterprises. Equal access to finance for male and female entrepreneurs needs to be assured.

Let’s give it a shot.