Equal Pay Act - Part 4

7. The gender pay gap outside the U.S.

The gender pay gap is a global phenomenon, and advanced economy countries are no exceptions. Although exact figures on pay differentials fluctuate depending on which years or measures are studied, there appear to be patterns among industrialized nations, particularly member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to one 2013 OECD report, the range of gender pay gap among the top 25 industrialized countries is from 6.1% to 28.7%. Countries such as Spain (6.1%), Poland (6.2%), Hungary (6.4%), New Zealand (6.8%), Norway (8.1%) and Belgium (8.9%) tend to have low percentages of pay differentials between men and women, while Japan (28.7%) and Germany (20.8%) tend to report high figures. Of the latest OECD statistics available online, the median gender wage gap ranges from 4.2% (New Zealand) to 37.5% (South Korea). The U.S.’s figure is 17.8% which is higher than the OECD average of 15.0%.

Contextually, the U.S. is notorious for having poor workplace policies compared to other industrialized nations. Its policies on parental leave, sick leave, vacations, and other social programs such as childcare are considered substandard and ungenerous by many scholars who study comparative, international social policies. According to researchers investigating longitudinal data sets from the World Economic Forum’s high-income economies, the U.S. is the only country among its peer nations that does not have a nationwide program for paid leave for new parents or guarantee paid leave for new mothers – with the exception of the states of California, Washington, and New Jersey, which have state-level programs for paid family leave. Nor is there a federal-level policy on paid leave for personal illness or to address family members’ illness. Most advanced-economy countries offer work-family friendly policies such as paid leave for new parents, paid leave to take care of children’s health issues, breastfeeding breaks, and a weekly day of rest – not to mention nationalized or subsidized childcare. The U.S. only offers breast-feeding breaks. These work-family policies have direct impact on how individuals participate in the workforce and what is included in their cost-benefit calculations. That is, a particular set of choices a woman makes about how many hours to work, which industry to work in, where to work, how much job-related training to pursue, how to obtain affordable childcare, etc., occur within a context of constraints. Their decisions related to work participation are made among these constrained choices. 

8. Next steps 

Many legislative measures have been enacted and pursued since the EPA was passed. For example, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed to prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Its scope is in much broader terms than the EPA, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex in pay and benefits. Other legislative changes include (click each link for more information):


9. References

1 2 3 4