From the FT:
PwC's Women in Work Index [available here], published on Friday to mark International Women's Day, placed the UK 18th out of 27 OECD countries, using indicators including equality of earnings, the proportion in work, the unemployment rate and the proportion in full-time employment.
It said the UK had improved in most of these since 2000, but more slowly than other countries and progress (1) had stalled since 2007. It fell from 13th in 2000 and 14th in 2007. Nordic countries led the index, with Norway top, followed by Sweden and Denmark.
The UK had 70 per cent of working-age women in employment, compared with the 62 per cent OECD average, but only 61 per cent of women worked full-time, below the OECD's 74 per cent.(2) Women's median wages were 18 per cent below men's, a wider gap than the 15 per cent OECD average.(3)
1) Why is this necessarily "progress"? Some women quite like staying at home with their children. If their husbands/partners were paid better then perhaps more would stay at home and would be happy doing so. It's certainly not my cup of tea, but so what? Other women, just like men, are desperately looking for a job, if they find one, then that clearly is "progress".
2) Why the diagonal comparison? Do the figures not sort of leap off the page at you?
UK: 70% in employment of which 62% are full-time = 43% full-time; 27% part-time and 30% not in employment
OECD: 62% in employment of which 74% are full-time = 46% full-time; 16% part-time and 38% not in employment.
So the number of full-timers is much the same, the big difference between the UK and the OECD average is that there are about ten per cent more women in part-time employment and about ten per cent fewer women not in employment. That might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing, but by their measure, it is certainly "progress".
3) It's not a women-versus-men pay gap, it's a mothers-versus-everybody-else pay gap. There is also a small but measurable fathers-versus-everybody-else pay premium (whether this is self-selection or necessity, we do not know). So by and large, parent couples gain on the swings what they lose on the roundabouts.
For example, fifteen years ago, my wife and I (we did the same degree at the same time) earned about the same; she's now back at work part-time and I have been in the same full-time job for donkey's years. So inevitably I now earn four or five times as much as she does, but all our money goes into the same pot and her standard of living is exactly the same as mine. We live in the same house, go on the same holidays etc. She spends on hand bags and shoes what I spend on fags and booze, and that is the end of that. And we knew perfectly well that her earnings would take a knock if we had kids, which is why we are not whining and moaning about it now.
Friday, 8 March 2013
From the FT: