‘Wage gap between men and women increases with age’

Soon-to-be-published study that men start out earning more than women, wage differentials increase sharply as workers age.

Men and women at a meeting 370 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Men and women at a meeting 370
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Proving what women’s rights groups have claimed for years, a soon-to-be-published academic study shows that men start out earning more than women, and wage differentials increase sharply as workers get older and have children.
Based on information from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the National Insurance Institute and income taxes, researchers at the College of Management Academic Studies (COMAS) in Rishon Lezion tracked the salaries of Israeli citizens over a period of 13 years, starting from after they completed their first degrees.
The central finding was that just a decade after graduation, the men were earning up to twice as much as the women, and their number of children only served to increase that gap even more.
“We did not expect the gap to be so high but 10 years after graduating there is nearly a 100 percent difference in salaries,” commented Dr. Erez Siniver, the Dean of the School of Economics at COMAS, who worked on the study together with Dr. Dalit Gafni.
“We purposely looked at men and women academics because we thought that among educated people, the gap should not be so large,” he said. “These women are widely read, they understand inequality, but it seems to make little difference.”
According to the findings, the wage gap between equally educated men and women starts almost immediately after graduation, with men earning an average of 59% more than women for the same jobs.
However, the research found that this gap increases even more over the years with it growing to some 98% ten years after graduation.
In real terms, the average gross salary after ten years stands at NIS 24, 074 for men and NIS 12,152.
“We always knew there was a difference between men and women’s wages but now we have proved it using data and statistics,” said Siniver, adding that the study also looked into the reasons for the differences.
One of the biggest factors, noted the researchers, is maternity leave.
A woman who takes time off after birth is likely to see an even bigger decrease in her income than if she returned from any other lengthy break. Each month a woman takes off for maternity leave will reduce her salary by 1% and for each additional child, her salary drops by 3.5%. In contrast, a man will see his salary increase by 4.5% after the birth of each child.
Siniver also noted that after giving birth, many women opt to take lower pay and less demanding jobs in order to juggle both family and work commitments.
“Many of the women we checked moved after child birth to companies that paid less but made less demands of them,” he said, adding that they were most likely looking for more flexible hours.
Despite this, the study also found that even if a woman is earning more than her male partner, she is still more likely to take time off to care for a sick child.
“That was not something we were expecting,” said Siniver. “We thought that if a woman earns more then her husband, then she would not be the one to take time off work because it does not seem rational.”
Finally, the research found evidence that women are less likely to advance in the workplace as quickly as male counterparts, mainly due to statistical discrimination and stereotypes about women held by employers.
“It is not that they do not like women but more because of the view that women will most likely leave to have children or take time off to care when their children are sick,” he said.
Siniver hoped that the findings of the research would be picked up by an international journal, and said that when they are complete would he pass them onto the government for future policy-making strategy.