The Gender Pay Gap in Scotland

Bell, D. and Wilson, T. (2017) The Gender Pay Gap in Scotland. Other. Scottish Parliament.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  The gender pay gap can be measured in various ways. Comparing median gross weekly pay across all workers, in Scotland 2016 the pay difference between men and women was 30%. This difference also reflects that women are more likely to work part time. Internationally, the standard comparison used to calibrate gender pay is that between full-time male and full-time female workers. In Scotland 2016 the gender pay gap for full-time workers was 18%, for part-time workers the gender pay differential was in favour of women by 14%.  The gender pay gap has narrowed over time. In 1970 the UK pay gap for full-time workers was in excess of 45%. In the past 15 years, predominantly during the Great Recession there has been a substantial decline in gender pay differentials. However rather than an improvement in wages for women relative to men, the recent decline in the gender pay gap has been driven by a larger decrease in real wages for men relative to women.  On labour market entry, the current gender pay gap is marginal, increases to 10% within a decade, and widens to 20% for full-time workers by age 40. The largest increases in the gender pay gap occur during the prime child-bearing ages.  Discussions of the gender pay gap for full-time workers typically focus on differences in the skills of male and female workers and on differences in the amount employers are prepared to pay for these skills. Part-time workers have fewer skills than full-time workers because on average they have less work experience and are less qualified. As a consequence, full-time workers are typically paid more than part-timers, and because more males than females work full-time, the overall gender pay gap favours males.  Higher levels of education command a premium in the labour market due to the associated increased productivity. The gender gap in educational attainment closed over 20 years ago and has been accompanied by a narrowing of the gender wage gap. However, education differences in subject choice persist, with girls and young women significantly less likely to study science and technology subjects and more likely to studying ‘female–friendly’ subjects. This can result in an increased selection of females into “women’s jobs”, which may command lower pay.  Occupational polarisation, where certain occupations tend to employ vastly more women than men, or vice versa, is a contributory cause of the gender pay gap. In addition, a larger share of women’s employment is in the public sector, where wages tend to be higher than in the private sector. The gender pay gap is strongly influenced by choice of occupation and sector, which in turn reflects cultural influences and the path taken through the educational system.  Assessing the causal linkages between the gender pay gap and economic growth is difficult. At different times, GDP growth is driven by different sectors in the economy. If these sectors predominantly employ males, then economic growth will increase the gender pay gap. In contrast, if growth is concentrated in sectors that predominantly employ females, the gender pay gap is likely to contract.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Other)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bell, Professor David and Wilson, Dr Tanya
Authors: Bell, D., and Wilson, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Publisher:Scottish Parliament

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