Gender pay gap statistics

From Statistics Explained

Data from February 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
Figure 1: The unadjusted gender pay gap, 2012 (% difference between average gross hourly earnings of male and female employees, as % of male gross earnings, unadjusted form)
Source: Eurostat (tsdsc340)
Figure 2: The unadjusted gender pay gap by working profile, %, 2012
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2wt)

The article below shows how gender inequalities in terms of pay vary widely among Member States of the European Union (EU) and among groups of employees.

The unadjusted gender pay pap (GPG) is an important indicator used within the European employment strategy (EES) to monitor imbalances in wages between men and women. It is defined as the relative difference (in percentage) between the average gross hourly earnings of women and men.

Main statistical findings

Gender pay gap levels

The gender pay gap remains high in Europe

For the economy as a whole[1], in 2012, women's gross hourly earnings were on average 16.4 % below those of men in the European Union (EU-28) and 16.7% in the euro area (EA-17). Across Member States the gender pay gap varied by 27.5 percentage points, ranging from 2.5 % in Slovenia to 30.0 % in Estonia (Figure 1).

Table 1: The unadjusted gender pay gap by age category, %, 2012
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2ag)
Table 2: The unadjusted gender pay gap by economic activity, %, 2012
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2)
Table 3: The unadjusted gender pay gap by economic control, %, 2012
Source: Eurostat (earn_gr_gpgr2ct)

There are various reasons for the existence and size of a gender pay gap and they may differ strongly between Member States, e.g. kind of jobs held by women, consequences of breaks in career or part-time work due to childbearing, decisions in favour of family life, etc. Moreover, the proportion of women working and their characteristics differ significantly between countries, particularly because of institutions and attitudes governing the balance between private and work life which impact on the careers and thus the pay of women.

By working profile (part-time versus full-time)

Pay gaps can also be analysed from the perspective of part-time or full-time employment. Information at this level of detail is not available, however, for all EU Member States (Figure 2). In 2012, in the EU the gender pay gap for part-time workers varied by a factor of 39 percentage points, from the lowest recorded in Ireland (-6.9 %) and Malta (-5.1 %) to the highest in Spain (31.8 %), Portugal (26.1 %) and Slovakia (24.4 %).

Differences may depend on the actual participation of men and women in part-time work. For full-time workers pay gaps varied widely in the EU, by 21 percentage points, between the highest ones observed in Hungary, Slovakia and Germany (above 20 %) and the lowest pay gap, just less than 1 %, in Italy.

By age

The gender pay gap is lowest for young employees in almost all EU countries

The gender pay gap might be expected to increase with age as a result of the career interruptions women experience during their working life, particularly older women unable to benefit from specific equality measures which did not yet exist when they started to work.

This is confirmed by a relatively low gender pay gap for employees below the age of 25 and a clear increase with age (Table 1). Notable exceptions to this pattern, with other age groups having a lower pay gap than the below-25 group, are Cyprus, Portugal and the United Kingdom, in which employees between 25 and 34 years registered a lower pay gap then the younger group. Remarkably, Cyprus recorded the lowest gender pay gap in the EU for employees between 25 and 34 years (-0.5 %) but the highest one for the age bracket between 45 and 54 years (28.5 %) and between 55 and 64 years (27.1 %) as well as for the group comprising workers aged 65 years or more (28.7 %). Within the latter group, the Czech Republic recorded the second highest pay gap (28.5 %) whereas in Bulgaria (-14.6 %) and Slovenia (-11.1 %) the lowest pay gaps were observed.

By economic activity

The size of the gender pay gap by economic activity strongly differs among Member States

After analysing gender pay gaps at the level of the whole economy (except public administration and defence and compulsory social security), a breakdown for the different sectors of the economy also reveals interesting patterns (Table 2).

In almost all EU Member States, the gender pay gap in the financial and insurance activities (NACE Rev. 2 section K) was sizeably higher than in the business economy as a whole (NACE Rev. 2 aggregate B to N) and in other individual NACE sectors, with the lowest gap at 20.6;% recorded in Slovenia. The highest pay gap within the financial and insurance sector was recorded in Estonia (44.9 %) and the Czech Republic (44.8 %).

Within the business economy (NACE Rev. 2 sections B to N), the highest gender pay gap was recorded in Estonia (28.9 %) and the lowest in Slovenia (7.0 %). Estonia (32.7 %) also recorded the highest pay gaps within the manufacturing industry (NACE Rev. 2 section C) whereas Sweden (7.3 %) had the lowest.

In the construction industry (NACE Rev. 2 section F) eleven Member States registered negative pay gaps, the lowest gaps (-20. %) observed in Romania and Slovenia, whereas the highest (19.5 %) was registered in Estonia. A negative gender pay gap means that on average women's gross hourly earnings are higher than those or men in that particular sector.

Pay gaps and economic control

In 2012, the majority of the EU countries recorded a higher gender pay gap in the private sector than in the public sector. This might be due to the fact that within the public sector, in most countries, employees are protected by collective pay agreements and other similar contracts establishing pay. On the other hand, the opposite was observed in four EU countries: Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary and Sweden. The Netherlands registered almost the same level of pay gap for both the public (17.2 %) and the private (17.4 %) sector.

The highest difference between the public and private sector for the same country was registered in Cyprus, where the pay gap varied by a factor of 24 percentage points. Hungary recorded the highest pay gap within the public sector (24.4 %) whereas in Belgium a negative pay gap of -3 % was observed. Portugal had the highest pay gap (29.4 %) in the private sector whereas the the lowest pay gap (8.9 %) was recorded in Slovenia.

Data sources and availability

From reference year 2006 onwards, the new unadjusted gender pay gap is based on the methodology of the Structure of earnings survey (SES) according to Regulation 530/1999. The SES is carried out with a four-yearly periodicity. The most recent reference years available for the SES are 2002, 2006 and 2010. Eurostat computed the gender pay gap for these years on this basis. For the intermediate years (2007-2009) countries provide to Eurostat gender pay gap estimates benchmarked on the SES results.

The gender pay gap in unadjusted form represents the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees and of female paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees.

The gender pay gap is calculated at the level of Member States and EU aggregates total using the arithmetic mean for the NACE Rev. 2 aggregate B to S (excluding O) and, if available, also for sections B to S and the aggregates B to N and B to S.

The indicator has been defined as unadjusted (e.g. not adjusted according to individual characteristics that may explain part of the earnings difference) because it should give an overall picture of gender inequalities in terms of pay. The gender pay gap is the consequence of various inequalities (structural differences) in the labour market such as different working pattern, differences in institutional mechanisms and systems of wage setting. Consequently, the pay gap is linked to a number of legal, social and economic factors which go far beyond the single issue of equal pay for equal work.

While the size of the unadjusted gender pay gap certainly gives an indication of the situation women face in the labour market, it generally makes sense to take into account other labour market indicators as well to get a fuller picture of the possible reasons underlying the pay gap in a particular Member State.


The gender pay gap belongs to the set of the European Sustainable development indicators (see theme: Social Inclusion), which are used for assessing the progress made towards the 'renewed' Lisbon Strategy, the European Employment Strategy (EES) objectives and with regard to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. The gender pay gap is also a key indicator in the framework of the Strategy for equality between women and men of the European Commission.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (tsdsc340)


Gender pay gap in unadjusted form (earn_grgpg)
Gender pay gap in unadjusted form - Nace rev.2 (earn_grgpg2)
Gender pay gap in unadjusted form - Nace rev.1.1 (earn_grgpg1)

Dedicated section

Gender equality

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures on this page (MS Excel)

Other information

External links

  • European Commission - Justice


  1. Here defined as industry, construction and services except public administration and defense and compulsory social security: NACE Rev. 2 Sections B to S with the exception of Section O.