South Korea shown to have highest gender pay gap in OECD

Posted on : 2023-06-12 17:04 KST Modified on : 2023-06-12 17:04 KST
The country was shown to have the seventh-highest disparity in economic participation
Cover of the OECD report “Joining Forces for Gender Equality.”
Cover of the OECD report “Joining Forces for Gender Equality.”

The disparity between South Korean men’s and women’s rates of participation in economic activity ranked the seventh largest among the 38 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a report showed.

On May 9, the OECD published a report titled “Joining Forces for Gender Equality: What Is Holding Us Back?” The results showed South Korea with a gender gap of 18.1 percentage points for participation in economic activity for 2021, or roughly 7.72 points higher than the organization’s average of 10.9. It was the seventh-highest rate among the 38 member countries examined.

The OECD member with the smallest gender gap in economic participation was Lithuania (2 percentage points), followed by Finland (3.2), Israel (3.3), and Sweden (4.1).

The countries with larger gender employment gaps than South Korea were Italy (18.2 percentage points), Chile (20.6), Costa Rica (23.8), Colombia (24.9), Mexico (32.4), and Türkiye (39.6).

Among major countries, the disparities were 13.3 percentage points for Japan, 10.5 for the US, 8.1 for Germany, 7.2 for the UK, and 6.3 for France.

The indicator was based on the rate of economic activity participation for people aged 15 to 64, with the rate of women’s participation subtracted from the rate of men’s participation.

South Korea was also found to have the largest gender pay gap among OECD members. At 31.1%, the salary disparity for a full-time position in South Korea in 2021 was the highest among 37 countries examined.

The rate substantially exceeded the OECD average of 11.9% and was 6.8 percentage points higher than second-place Israel, which recorded a gap of 24.3%. The countries with the smallest pay gaps were Belgium (1.2%), Colombia (3.2%), and Spain (3.7%).

As of this year, 19.1% of members of the South Korean national legislature are women — a rate well below the average of 33.8% for the OECD as a whole. In the category of women’s parliamentary representation, South Korea had the fourth-lowest rate after Japan (10%), Hungary (13.1%), and Türkiye (17.4%). Countries with high rates of women’s representation in parliament included Mexico (50%), New Zealand (50%), Iceland (47.6%), and Costa Rica (47.4%).

“Addressing gender inequalities is not only a matter of intrinsic value and a moral imperative. It can also enhance growth, productivity, competitiveness and the sustainability of economies,” the report stressed. “Failing to work towards equality between men and women puts our collective future prosperity at risk.

It also predicted that a reduction in the gender gaps in economic participation and working hours could translate into a 0.23-percentage point annual increase in per capita gross domestic product growth rates, resulting in a potential 9.2% rise by the year 2060.

By Chai Yoon-tae, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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