New Report Says That Reducing Wage Gap Would Greatly Benefit Society

A new report by the World Labour Organization shows that if the wage gap could be decreased globally, it would be beneficial to society as a whole.

Even though the presence of women in higher-paying jobs that are traditionally dominated by men has been on the rise, the gender wage gap still continues to be a huge problem.

Because of this gap in pay, women continue to be highly represented in lower-paying occupations, and in some instances, they don't even participate in the labor market at all. 

Many people who supposedly aren't affected by this obvious pay gap fight back by saying, "Well, it's not my problem." But according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), that couldn't be further from the truth.

The study shows that in 2017, on a global scale, the labor force participation for women is less than 50 percent, almost 27 percentage points lower than the rate for men. While there are obviously other factors at play here, this is in part because of the wage gap.

Unemployment line with men and women

Back in 2014, G20 leaders vowed to reduce the gap in labor participation rates between women and men by 25 percent by the year 2025. If that actually happened worldwide, the ILO report estimates that "it has the potential to add $5.8 trillion to the global economy."

It could also mean huge tax revenue for governments the world over. 

But it's not just about money. More women participating in the workforce could mean healthier generations to follow. If women have positive experiences in the job market (from equal pay to equal opportunities), they are more likely to encourage their children to become well-educated, active participants in the workforce, too. This creates a circle of development that lifts society as a whole. 

The findings also confirmed what many people have known for a long time: The gender pay gaps in economic participation and opportunity for women vary significantly across regions. Projections for 2017 show that the Middle East and Northern Africa suffer from the widest gender gap, with women reaching around 40 percent of equality in the workplace, on average, compared with around 80 percent in North America. This chart represents the projections for all regions of the world.

Chart of the 2017 gender gap projections in labour force

Bottom line: If we get our act together and make getting more women into jobs and closing the pay gap priorities, then the U.S. and every country could see huge gains for everyone participating in society.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Martha Soukup

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