Women earn 1.2 percent less for each child they bear compared to childless women, according to a study on Estonia’s gender gap in pay, which is one of Europe’s highest.
The study conducted by Praxis Centre for Policy Research and CentAR Centre for Applied Research found that the gender gap was highest – 31 to33 percent – in the 25 to 44 age bracket, when it is most likely that people will start families.
The study spanned the years 2000 to 2008. The wage gap in this period was 28.7 percent with an upward trend. As of 2007, the gap was Europe’s largest.
Only 4.4 percentage points of that gap can be attributed to the fact that women and men simply hold down different jobs. The rest, said the researchers, was undetermined.
Men earned 24.3 percent more than women in the same position with all other conditions being equivalent.
The role of discrimination, if any, is not clear, said Sten Anspal of CentAR. “It can’t be directly measured in statistics. The only thing we know is data from interview surveys where 17 percent of female employees said they had experienced unequal treatment because they are women.”
Case studies conducted as part of the study did find that in one organization, some women who qualified for a bonus elected to be paid in kind while the men in the same organizations opted for cash, which resulted in a lower total wages figure for the women.
The survey authors said the reasons for the unexplained portion of the gender gap could lie in unquantifiable factors such as personal traits, discrimination or overly broad statistical data.
The study also outlined recommendations for easing the negative impact on women, proposing an option for part-time child care leave for women, paid paternity leave, individual right to parental benefits for fathers, and a greater focus on parental education aimed at fathers.