Wiesbaden (dpa) - The differences in earnings between men and women in Germany are only slowly narrowing. Last year, the average gross hourly wage of women was 17.72 euros, 20 percent lower than that of men at 22.61 euros, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office.

The difference was 21 percent a year ago and 22 percent in 2014. This puts Germany in second last place in Europe. Only in Estonia was the wage gap even bigger in 2018.

The wage gap was again significantly lower in the east at 7 percent than in the west at 21 percent. This still has an impact on the fact that women in the former GDR had better access to better paid technical jobs and worked more frequently in full positions.

Structural reasons for gender pay gap

Three quarters of the pay gap - which is also known as the gender pay gap - can be attributed to structural reasons, as the Federal Office explained. For example, historically grown occupations have consistently paid lower salaries; women work more frequently part-time and less frequently in qualified management positions. Breaks in employment, such as bringing up children, could also play a role here, but this has not been statistically recorded.

According to the calculations, there remains an adjusted wage gap of 6 percent recently - that is, what women earn less than men with comparable qualifications and jobs. This figure also tends to decrease slightly, but is only recorded more precisely every four years, most recently in 2014. More recent results should not be available until the middle of this year. The Federal Office suspects that part of this remaining gap can be explained by the career breaks of women who have interrupted or reduced their gainful employment, for example to raise children.

Women do care work more often

This is also supported by a study by the trade union Hans Böckler Foundation. Women still take on significantly more unpaid care work than men - such as childcare or household chores. "Women therefore often switch to part-time work, which in the long term is associated with a significant drop in hourly wages," explains researcher and co-author Karin Schulze Buschoff. The study also identified individual occupations with particularly high income differentials. With the same performance and qualifications, women in sales, sales and at banks continue to earn significantly less than their male colleagues.

The publication is due to the so-called Equal Pay Day, which falls on March 17 this year. The appointment symbolically indicates up to which day of the year women have practically unpaid work, even though they do the same work as men who have been paid since January 1. Differences according to qualifications, industries or part-time quota are not made here.

Loss through parenting times

Children in particular lead to a reduction in life income - and this clearly in mothers, but "almost not at all" in fathers, as the study said. Because mainly mothers take time off from the job market. In addition, part-time work for women in their main working age between 30 and 50 is the "dominant form of employment". Mothers who are in their mid-30s today could expect to earn a living income of 580,000 euros (West) and 570,000 euros (East) in the course of their lives. There is no significant difference between mothers of younger and older age groups. In the case of childless women, incomes approached those of men.

The frequently mentioned difference in gross hourly wages (gender pay gap) - it was on average 20 percent lower for women in 2019 than for men - falls short, the foundation judged according to the announcement. This would only take into account those who were active in the labor market at the time. How big the gap in the entire working life really is is obscured.

DIW study on life income

Across the entire working life, women in Germany earn only about half as much as men. In the West, the expected life income is on average around 830,000 euros for women, men come to an average of around 1.5 million euros. In East Germany, around 660,000 for women and almost 1.1 million euros for men are expected. This emerges from a study sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and the Free University of Berlin, which was published on the international "Day for Equal Pay".

For the study, life income was calculated for the ages of 20 to 60, before taxes and duties and without transfers such as parental or child benefit. It is based on the data of almost 18,200 people from a representative repeat survey.

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Europe comparison Eurostat 2018