The gender pay gap in Germany shrank by almost 1 percent in 2019, but is still well above the EU average. In fact, Germany has the bloc’s second-worst gender pay gap after Estonia.
The gender pay gap in Germany is slowly shrinking
Women in Germany took 19 percent less home with them than men in 2019, according to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) this week. The difference in earnings between men and women in Germany – the so-called unadjusted gender pay gap – was one percentage point lower than in 2018 and fell below 20 percent for the first time. “Viewed over a longer period of time, a slow but steady decline can be observed in Germany,” the report says.
The unadjusted gender pay gap compares the average earnings of all employees, regardless of occupation or qualification. Experts in Germany generally attribute the difference in earnings to the fact that women work more frequently in sectors and occupations with lower incomes and are less likely to get into management positions. Since women still take on the majority of childcare and household tasks, they also work more often on short-time work.
Adjusted wage gap stagnates
However, these factors alone cannot explain the persistent discrepancy between male and female earnings in Germany: if one evaluates the wage gap for men and women with comparable qualifications who have the same working hours in the same occupations, the result is still a wage gap of 6 percent.
Data on this so-called adjusted gender pay gap are collected every four years and show that progress in Germany is even slower: since 2014 it has remained at 6 percent; In 2010 the difference was 7 percent and in 2006 it was 8 percent.
Gender pay gap smaller in East Germany
Interestingly, however, the figures show that there are significant differences within Germany, with the eastern federal states showing lower unadjusted gender pay gap figures than western Germany.
In the federal states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, the gender pay gap averaged 7 percent, according to Destatis, compared to 19 percent in the western federal states – an indication of income inequality in the west is actually the main driver of the gender pay gap in Germany.
The difference can be traced back to the generally lower wages in East Germany, but also to cultural patterns that established themselves in the East before reunification, such as the widespread availability of childcare and the high participation of women in the labor force.
The average gender pay gap in the EU is 15 percent
The EU has not yet released any figures for 2019, but at the end of 2018 the gender pay gap in the bloc was 15 percent. This means that Germany is 19 percent in 2019, well above the EU average. Last year, the Federal Republic even took the second worst place among the 28 member states. Only Estonia did worse with a gender pay gap of 22 percent.
Austria, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Slovakia and Latvia were at a similar level to Germany in 2018. The EU countries with the smallest gender pay gap were Luxembourg (1 percent), Romania (2 percent) and Italy (4 percent).