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Pay gap decline 'caused by male wage stagnation'

11/02/15

Male pay has declined faster than that of women, a new study shows.

There has been abundant evidence that the pay gap between men and women has shrunk in recent years, with the occasional blip in the other direction. However, that has usually been due to female remuneration increasing.

While that may be good news for women working in the finance sector and elsewhere, a new study has suggested a major contributory factor in recent years has been that men have seen a greater stagnation in pay than women.

This conclusion was reached by the Institute for Fiscal Studies after studying data produced by the Office for National Statistics on pay rates in 2014, based on income tax returns.

It found that overall, median hourly pay rates have fallen 4.7 per cent since the recession began in 2008, once Retail Prices Index inflation is taken into account.

However, this has been divided unevenly on a gender basis, with women seeing pay decline 2.5 per cent in real terms, whereas men have endured a 7.3 per cent drop. One reason for this is that a larger proportion of women work in the public sector, where pay rates have held up better than the private sector.

Of course, this was not the only demographic variable. Those in the top ten per cent for income suffered nearly twice as large a fall in pay as the bottom ten per cent, while younger workers suffered far more than average, the 22-29 age range (the youngest eligible for the full national minimum wage) saw a nine per cent fall, while those over 60 have recovered the real terms level of pay they enjoyed in 2008.

For women seeking better-paid jobs, the pressure to push for higher salaries in their own work may therefore be less than it is for men. However, given the fact that the imbalance of public or private sector staff has skewed the gender pay differences, those in the finance sector may have similar levels of motivation to seek to improve their pay packets.

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