International Women's Day: Belgium has 5th lowest gender pay gap in Europe, but inequality increases with age

The wage gap - the difference in hourly wages between men and women - increases with age, figures released by Belgian statistical office Statbel showed on Wednesday. However, Belgium scores relatively well internationally, having the fifth-lowest pay gap in Europe. The figures were released on the occasion of International Women's Day, March 8th.

While the gap for 35 to 44-year-olds is 4.5 per cent, the pay gap rises to 8.5 per cent for 55 to 64-year-olds. However, among the youngest generation of workers (up to 25 years old), the pay gap disappears and is even slightly negative at -0.1 per cent. In this age category, women earn slightly more than their male counterparts.

Belgium dangles at the bottom of Europe's top five, but does significantly better than many European countries in terms of closing the gender pay gap. The country ranks fifth with a 5 per cent gap in 2021. Luxembourg has the smallest pay gap (-0.2%), followed by Romania (3.6%), Slovenia (3.8%) and Poland (4.5%).

Countries where the gap is largest are Estonia (over 20%), Austria (18.%) and Germany (17.6%). France (15.4%) and the Netherlands (13.5%) also have a long way to go.

However, the trend is evolving positively: compared to ten years ago, the gender pay gap decreased by 4.4 percentage points in Belgium and by 3.5 per cent in the European Union.

In Belgium, the gender pay gap is most prominent in the water production and waste management sectors, as well as the information and communication sectors. In each of these, the pay gap is 11.2 per cent. In mineral extraction (-4.1%) and arts, entertainment and recreation (-0.2%), women average higher hourly wages than men.




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