Want trillions of dollars injected into the economy? Pay women the same as men

Closing the gender pay gap could swell economies in OECD countries by US$2 trillion, the study found.
Closing the gender pay gap could swell economies in OECD countries by US$2 trillion, the study found.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - Developed countries could add trillions of dollars to their economies by increasing women's participation in the workforce and ensuring they earn as much as men, global accounting firm PwC said in a study on Tuesday (March 5).

Closing the gender pay gap could swell economies in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries by US$2 trillion (S$2.7 trillion), the study found.

Increasing the female labour force to match that of Sweden - where 69 per cent of women work - would add a further US$6 trillion to countries in the OECD, which is made up of 36 states with advanced economies, it said.

"There are longstanding societal reasons behind the gender pay gap in countries across the world," said Ms Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC, in a statement.

"Businesses play a key role in solving this important problem by improving opportunities for women. From recruitment through to retirement, it's vital employers support all staff fairly at every stage of their career."

The PwC report ranked 33 OECD countries according to how they fared on gender pay gaps, female employment rates, and how many men worked compared to women.

Iceland came out on top, followed by Sweden, New Zealand, Slovenia and Norway.


Last January, Iceland become the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women, introducing fines on any company or government agency with over 25 staff without a government certificate demonstrating pay equality.

Italy, Chile, Greece, Mexico and South Korea were the worst performing countries, PwC said.

Globally, women earn about half as much as men, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

It will be 202 years before women can earn the same as men and have equal job opportunities, according to the WEF's 2018 Global Gender Gap report, which found there were fewer women working than men last year, mostly due to the lack of childcare.

South Korea has one of the worst gender wage gaps among developed nations, and is ranked 115 out of 149 countries in the WEF's 2018 gender gap report.

South Korean women could earn over 50 per cent more if the gender pay gap was closed, the highest proportion across the OECD, the PwC report said.

"Clearly, there is still a long way to go before we can achieve a gender-equal workplace," the report said.

"While governments are responsible for shaping a policy environment that supports gender equality and diversity in the workplace, it is up to organisations and employers to put this into practice," it added.