Published: Sat, January 07, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

The UK's generational gap in the gender pay gap

The UK's generational gap in the gender pay gap

Among baby boomers the gender pay gap rose from 21% at the age of 30 to 34% by the age of 40, after which it started to fall.

The Resolution Foundation research shows young men and women in Britain begin their first decade of employment on nearly an even footing in terms of pay.

Last year a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the pay gap widened consistently over the 12 years after a first child was born to leave women earning 33 per cent less per hour than men.

The research concludes that despite the gender pay gap closing for every generation since those born between 1911 and 1925, women are still often experiencing difficulties maintaining and finding new employment once having children.

It demonstrates that the gender pay gap has narrowed for every generation of women over the past century.

A report published yesterday by the Resolution Foundation found the pay gap has halved to five per cent for women in their 20s, but there remained a sharp rise after the age of 30 as women were more affected by having children than men.

However, it's not all good news as women entering the workplace today will still earn far less than men over the course of their careers despite an improvement in younger women's pay, the think tank found.

What the research really highlights is that although generational boundaries may be artificial (do your characteristics really changed when you are born in 1981 rather than 1980?), the penalty paid by women for bearing the brunt of childcare responsibilities remains very real. For various reasons, women earn less than men for doing the same jobs - even in countries that are more gender equal than the United Kingdom.

Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Sarah Champion, called on the government to do more to help close the pay gap as women progress in their careers.

Despite this, men's earnings will increase when they reach 30 and start a family while women's incomes grow at a slower rate.

Amanda Goodall, a senior lecturer at Cass Business School in London, said progress has been made because today's young women are better equipped to successfully negotiate salaries than previous generations. "But it is misleading to think we've cracked it for young women", says Sam Smethers, chief executive of Fawcett Society. Recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests the gender pay gap for United Kingdom graduates is as bad as it was 20 years ago.

"Many women are still trapped in chronically low-paid, low-progression sectors of the economy, while the cost of childcare has soared under the Tories".

From 2018, companies with more than 250 employees will have to publish information about the size of the pay gap within their workforce, which could go some way towards improving the situation for women.

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