Equal Pay Day: Countries with the largest pay gap and why it prevails

Published 2 weeks ago

Equal Pay Day was observed on the 2nd of april this year. In America, the date coincides with how many days into the year a woman will have to work in order to earn what her male counterpart has earned the previous year. Equal Pay Day is also observed in the United Kingdom, Germany and several countries in the European Union although on different dates. This year, Expat.com brings you the countries that have the worse gender pay gap according to 2018 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).


Korea has the worst gender pay-gap according to the OCDE. In the country, a woman only  earns about 65.4% of what a man earns. Women would, therefore, earn around $ 3,250 while a man earns $5,000 monthly. Only 56.2% of korean women are employed. The OCDE pins the gender pay gap on cultural pressure on women to leave their jobs once they have children.


The pay gap in Estonia stands at 28.3%, with women earning 71.7% of what men earn according to the OECD. In October 2017, for every $ 8.82 men earned per hour, women only earned $ 7.03. However, in Estonia more than 80% of women are an active part of the workforce.


Women only earn 74.5% of what men earn in Japan according to the report from the OECD. The pay gap is almost twice the average pay gap recorded by the OECD. This is explained by the sheer lack of women in supervisory roles and in management track career positions. Furthermore, men and women tend to work very long hours in Japan making it difficult to tend to the family’s need which makes it difficult for women to keep working after they have had children.


The OECD findings state that women are earning a whooping $10,000 less than men annually for working the same hours. Indeed, the gender pay gap in Chile stands at 21.1%. The gender gap was especially true between members of both genders who had completed a university education. Women are also less likely to find work in Chile although they hold similar qualifications to their male counterparts.

Gender pay gap


As for Chile, the gender pay gap stands at 21.1% in Latvia. This is also pinned on the fact that women are more likely to leave work to care for their families once they have children.


Women in Israel only earn 80.7% of what men earn. Women are more likely to go to university and get a degree than men in Israel although they are less likely to hold managerial positions. Women also tend to work fewer hours which would also partly explain the gender pay gap.

The United States

Equal pay day is still observed to this day in the United States because there is still a relatively high disparity in pay between genders.Indeed, in America, women earn 18.2% less than men, although the US have the required legislation to ensure than men and women are paid equally for the same job. In the United States, the gender pay gap is explained by several factors. One of which being that men negotiate for better salaries than women. Researchers also found that women who asked for a raise or a high starting salary are likely to be penalized for their actions.


In Canada, like in the United States, women earn 18.2% less than what men earn. Again, this happens despite legislation seeking to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex. The unconscious bias and childcare duties are also primary reasons for the gender pay gap in Canada.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the gender pay gap stands at 16.8% with women only earning about 83.2% of what men earn.

Women in the workplace

What explains the gender pay gap?

Career choices

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, women are more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs like cleaning, clerical or caring jobs where the pay is typically lower whereas the presence of women in higher-paying jobs is sparse. In Britain, France and Germany 80-90% of executive jobs are held by men.

However, women usually also earn less than men within the same line of work. For example, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, female medical practitioners are paid 30% less than their male counterparts and financial managers and directors are paid 36% less. This is also the case in lower-paid positions.

Role of both sexes within the family

The role played by men and women within the family can explain the gender pay disparity, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Indeed, women are usually expected to spend more time at home taking care of children and housework which means that they tend to prioritise family over their jobs in several countries. For example, according to the economist, in Britain 70% of mothers cut back on their working hours after their first child while only 11% of fathers do.

“Working part time or leaving work for a few years to look after children takes women off the career ladder and it is hard to get back on”, explains the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Part-time options are less likely to be available in senior roles as compared to low-paid positions. Furthermore, The Economist found that when a woman goes back to work after having had a first child, her salary is, on average, 4% less than before.


In many countries, the gender pay gap still prevails although more women go to university than men and, in America, even ask for promotions as much as men. Although women pay a price for motherhood, women are also more likely to be discriminated against by a recruiter. A research by Katherine Coffman, Christine Exley and Muriel Niederle from Harvard Business School and Stanford University finds that employers are less likely to hire a woman even when she has the same experience and qualifications as her male counterpart.

These discriminatory decisions, they have found, rely on the heavy stereotypes both genders are subject to. Women being softer, caring versus assertive and confident men.

Negotiating salaries

The phenomenon has been coined the depressed-entitlement effect and was first identified in 1979 although it has been replicated in studies since. Indeed, women tend to believe they are entitled to less money than men do. When negotiating for their salaries, therefore, women tend to ask for less money than men do. This phenomenon has been used to explain the gender pay gap between men and women in the same line of work and having almost exactly the same credentials.