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Korea has biggest gender wage gap among OECD nations

Posted March. 12, 2012 06:53,   


Korea has the largest gender wage gap among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development according to the latter`s report on gender initiative” released Sunday to mark World Women’s Day (March 8).

Korea`s average wage gap between permanent female and male workers in 2009 was 38.9 percent, the largest among 27 member countries. The figure is 2.5 times higher than the OECD average of 15.8 percent and considerably larger than Japan’s gap of 28.3 percent.

The gender wage gap measures wage differences between men and women by comparing the median income of regular female workers with that of male workers. The larger the gap, the larger the number of women whose incomes are smaller than men’s. Hungary had the lowest wage gap with 3.9 percent followed by New Zealand with 7.8 percent and Norway 8.7 percent.

A large number of women quitting their jobs for childcare are to blame for the large gender wage gap in Korea, according to experts. This reduces the number of high-income female workers.

In practice, the female employment rate for 20-somethings was 58.7 percent and the corresponding figure for those in their 30s was 53.7 percent last year. The figure, however, was 64.9 percent for those in their 40s.

This means that the majority of regular female workers stop working in their 30s due to childbirth and childrearing, but return to work as temporary workers in their 40s.

Korea’s gender pay gap fell from 38.3 percent in 2005 to 37.8 percent in 2007, but grew again to 38.8 percent in 2008. This is in contrast to the situations in most OECD member countries, with Japan`s figure falling from 32.8 percent in 2005 to 28.3 percent in 2009.

Kim Yeong-ok, a researcher at the Korean Women’s Development Institute, said, “Because small businesses were hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis, the gender pay gap has further widened.”

Korea’s female employment rate ranked 32nd with 54.5 percent among 40 countries surveyed in 2010. Ireland had the highest rate with 82.7 percent, followed by Sweden with 76.7 percent and Denmark 76.1 percent.