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Gender pay gap halved in Belgium in a decade, but worsens with age

12:48 08/03/2022

The wage gap between men and women in Belgium was reduced by half between 2010 and 2020, according to figures from the Belgian Statistical Office (Statbel), shared on the occasion of International Women's Day on 8 March.

A woman earned on average 5.3% less per hour than a man in 2020, compared to 10.2% in 2010. 

But while the gap narrowed for overall earnings, it increases when accounting for age.

“The pay gap increases from 3.4% between the ages of 25 and 34 to 8.9% for the 55-64 age group,” Statbel reports. “However, Belgium is doing better than most other European countries when it comes to equal hourly wages for women and men.”

The average pay gap at European level is 13.0%, and only Luxembourg (0.7%), Romania (2.4%), Slovenia (3.1%), Italy (4.2%) and Poland (4.5%) perform better than Belgium.

More women are unemployed

A comparison by consultancy firm PwC Belgium reached the same conclusions, but pointed out that while Belgium scored significantly better than average, the pandemic has meant that fewer women were active on the labour market in 2020, and more were unemployed. 

“On average, Covid-19 delayed progress on gender equality in the workplace by at least two years,” PwC said.

Figures from NSZ, an organisation representing the self-employed, showed that women who are self-employed still earned 30% less than their male counterparts in 2020. 

The organisation cited several reasons, such as the larger representation of women in low-earning sectors and the relatively larger number of women in part-time or secondary jobs.

 

Written by Helen Lyons