Our colleagues from RTL.lu took a closer look at the gender pay gap: Does it still exist? And how accurate is it?
On average, women continue to earn less than men. The size of the pay gap varies from country to country. In the European Union, the gender pay gap is as high as 13%, according to figures from 2020. You can think about it like this: if a man receives €1 for his work, a woman gets only €0.87 for the same job. The widest gap is found in Lithuania at 22.3%. Luxembourg’s neighbouring countries Germany and France also score quite low in the ranking. In Germany the pay gap is 18.3%, while in France, it is 15.8%. In Belgium, the gender pay gap is much smaller, at “only” 5.3%.
In this ranking, Luxembourg is well ahead, even taking first place. At a mere 0.7%, the gender pay gap is practically non-existent in Luxembourg.
The situation in Luxembourg
Luxembourg has therefore a relatively low gender pay gap. But this has not always been the case. In 2007, the gap was still close to 10%. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (STATEC), it has since been reduced to nearly zero.
However, this does not apply to all sectors
While men earn much more in some sectors, the gender pay gap is even negative in others. This means that women have a higher average hourly wage than men. In the real estate and insurance sector, men are much better off. In these sectors, women earn on average 23% less, according to STATEC calculations. In the arts sector, the opposite is true. Women are paid over 17% more than their male colleagues on average.
The gender pay gap may not remain at 0
According to STATEC, it is possible that the pay gap will become negative in the future. The figures from the last few years indicate a distinct trend. The graph below shows that women earn nearly a third less than men, especially in the upper age groups. The further down the age scale you go, the narrower the gender pay gap becomes, until it reverses around the age of 35-45. Female employees under 39 earn more than their male colleagues. And this negative wage gap is still growing. In the 15-19 age group, women earn 15% more than men. One possible conclusion is that the gender pay gap will become negative in the future and that women will on average have a higher hourly wage.
What is being done to promote equality in Luxembourg?
In Luxembourg, the wage gap between men and women has been a topic since the 1990s. The Ministry for the Equality between Women and Men, for example, launched the ‘Positive Actions’ programme. This programme is voluntary and aims to help companies in creating an inclusive and equal environment. Participating companies may also earn certification.
The Ministry also places great emphasis on education and information. For example, an equality guide has been developed in partnership with the Chamber of Workers, and an equal pay helpline has been set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, which workers can contact to report workplace inequity.
Finally, in 2016, the Chamber of Deputies amended the Labour Code by passing a law that classified unequal pay as an offence.
The shortcomings of the gender pay gap
The Gender Pay Gap (GPG) is calculated using the average hourly wage of an entire population. This means that numerous factors are left out. Nowadays, a distinction is made between the adjusted GPG and the unadjusted GPG. Figures by STATEC and Eurostat show the unadjusted GPG. The adjusted GPG considers factors such as level of education and working hours.
The gender pay gap can therefore vary based on the number of parameters considered in the calculation. For example, if bonus payments are included in annual income, the resulting values are completely different, and the pay gap rises to 7.16%.
In the context of maternal and parental leave, it is also important to take into account that women take more career breaks than men.
In conclusion, the Gender Pay Gap should be seen as an indicator of wage equality between men and women. However, it should also be borne in mind that the GPG calculation excludes too many parameters to be considered a 100% accurate representation of reality.