U.K. Wage Gap Grows After Childbirth as Women Miss Pay Rises

  • Women get paid on average about 18% less than male workers
  • Understanding different progression key to solution, IFS Says

The gap in pay between men and women in the U.K. increases after childbirth as mothers reduce their hours and miss out on wage progression, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.

On average, women in the U.K. are paid about 18 percent less per hour than men, a deficit that’s narrowed from 23 percent in 2003 and 28 percent in 1993, the IFS said in a report on Tuesday. For women with middle and high levels of education, the gap is essentially unchanged from two decades ago.

The pay gulf widens from around 11 percent just before the birth of a mother’s first child to almost 35 percent two decades later, according to the IFS. The disparity may be explained by women reducing the number of hours they work, meaning they accumulate less experience in the labor market and miss out on promotions, it said. 

“Women in jobs involving fewer hours of work have particularly low hourly wages, and this is because of poor pay progression, not because they take an immediate pay cut when switching away from full-time work,” Robert Joyce, the report’s author, said in an e-mail. “Understanding that lack of progression is going to be crucial to making progress in reducing the gender wage gap.”

The IFS research was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

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