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Gender pay gap in Germany: Women earn 18% less than men

January 18, 2024

There's a clear correlation between the pay gap between men and women, and the birth of the first child, say statisticians.

A file photo of plastic models of a man and a woman standing on a pile of coins and bank notes
Women in Germany on average earned €20.84 ($22.7) per hour last year, compared with €25.3 for menImage: Joe Giddens/PA/picture-alliance

Women in Germany earned 18% less on average than men in 2023, the country's Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) said on Thursday. On an adjusted basis, the gap was 6%, it added.

The report showed that women, on average, earned €20.84 ($22.7) per hour last year, compared with €25.3 for men.

Statisticians have been calculating the gender pay gap — which shows the difference in average gross earnings between men and women — since 2006 when it stood at 23%.

The difference had steadily decreased until 2020, to 18%. It has remained unchanged since then.

There are also regional differences within Germany: While the pay gap in western Germany stood at 19%, it was far lower in states that were formerly part of the communist East Germany, at 7%. 

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What are the reasons behind the gap?

Destatis came up with several reasons why the pay gap has persisted.

It said women's earnings begin to stagnate from the age of 30 years, the average age when women in Germany have their first child.

"This could be because women interrupt their careers more frequently during their working lives for family reasons and work part-time," the agency said, citing child care and household responsibilities.

It pointed out that women's career advancement and pay rises are therefore less frequent.

The agency said structural reasons could have also contributed to the gap. It said women are more likely than men to work in sectors and professions that pay less.

"They are also more frequently employed part-time or in marginal employment than men, which is also associated with lower average gross hourly earnings."

For women and men employed for the same number of hours with the same qualifications in the same kinds of jobs, the statistics show that women earn 6% less than men on average.

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Pay gap not just in Germany

Gender pay gap persists not just in Germany, but also across the European Union.

In the EU overall, women are paid 13% less than men on average for an equal job, according to the European Commission.

And progress on closing this gap has been slow.

In March 2020, the European Commission set out a strategy to close the gender pay gap by 2025.

The Pay Transparency Directive was introduced in June 2023, making it possible for workers to determine if they're being discriminated against, or for employers to make sure they're applying the principles of equal pay.

sri/lo (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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