Économie et Statistique n° 469-470 - 2014Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-Silc/SRCV) - Income and poverty - longitudinal approach and international comparisons; quality of life
Gender inequality in earned income and standard of living - A comparison between five European Union countries
At the end of the 2000s, women still work less than men, those who are in employment more often work part-time, and those who work full-time have lower wages on average. As a result, there is a high level of gender inequality in terms of earned income, but this is not reflected in standards of living. This article analyses the factors of the average annual earned income gap between women and men of a working age, either living alone or as a couple, and the sequence that runs from their earned incomes to their standards of living. Five European Union countries are compared using EU-SILC data: Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In these five countries there is considerable economic gender inequality: the earned income gap ranges from a minimum of around 27% in Sweden to almost 50% in Germany and the United Kingdom. An analysis of these gaps via an accounting breakdown shows that the contribution of the three main factors of economic gender inequality - inactivity, part-time working, and wage gap in full-time work - is highly variable from one country to the next. Standard of living gaps are far lower than earned income gaps: almost non-existent in Sweden, the gap is largest in the United Kingdom, with 9%. A stage-by-stage examination of the sequence running from earned income to standard of living highlights the asymmetric effect for women and men of the assumptions of income pooling and equal sharing in households, resulting in quasi-equality in terms of standards of living. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the issues at stake in the measurement of gender inequality.