According to the Minister of Family and Social Policy, Marlena Maląg, the wage gap in the earnings of women and men in Poland is one of the lowest in Europe. We checked the various available estimates. Not all data are so favorable for Poland.
President of Law and Justice Jarosław Kaczyński on November 5 in Ełk he spoke about women, alcohol and fertility. Among other things, he stated that he was not a supporter of “very early motherhood” because “a woman must mature to be a mother.” – But if he hits the neck by the age of 25, I’m joking a bit, but it’s not a good prognosis in these matters – he assessed. “Words taken out of context, we can actually talk about many situations around which the opposition and the media create an appropriate narrative” – this is how the Minister of Family and Social Policy Marlena Maląg commented on Kaczyński’s statement on November 25 in Radio Zet.
Maląg encouraged a broader view of the activities of the PiS government and Jarosław Kaczyński. She argued that their effect was to “raise the dignity of families, including women.” “If we look at women in Poland today, including women on the labor market, the situation changes dramatically. In this European Union, which the opposition repeatedly holds up as a model for us, the wage gap is at the level of 13 percent. In Poland, 4.5 percent– said the minister. She explained that the wage gap is the difference between the earnings of women and men in comparable positions. Minister Maląg further argued that there had been a change in thinking about family and women in Poland, which she attributed to the actions of the PiS government.
Speaking about the wage gap, Marlena Maląg correctly cited Eurostat data on the wage gap. This data on the so-called unadjusted (raw) wage gap, which do not take into account significant differences between employees: education, experience or industry. Experts dealing with the wage gap adjust the data for these differences. In the light of the data on the adjusted wage gap, Poland looks less favorable compared to Europe.
Raw wage gap
According to Eurostat data for 2020 The average wage gap in the European Union was 13%.. The highest wage gap was in Latvia (22.3%), Estonia (21.1%) and Austria (18.9%). The lowest in Luxembourg (0.7%), Romania (2.4%) and Slovenia (3.1%). In Poland, the gap was 4.5 percent – it was the fifth lowest result among the 28 countries of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) included in the list. In Eurostat’s reports, Poland traditionally occupies favorable positions. According to these data, in 2013-2020 Poland had the fifth, sixth or seventh lowest wage gap in Europe (from 6.5 to 8.5 percent). In 2010-2012, it was the second lowest (from 4.5 to 6.4 percent).
Eurostat estimates are the unadjusted (raw) wage gap. This is the difference between the average gross hourly earnings of men and women, expressed as a percentage of the average gross hourly earnings of men. Only enterprises with 10 or more employees are included. This is an important limitation. In Poland, he works in micro-enterprises 41.9 percent all employees of enterprises (nearly 4.2 million people).
“The raw gap should be treated with great caution, in the context of equality between men and women on the labor market” – says Dr. Magdalena Smyk-Szymańska from the GRAPE Foundation of Adepts and Enthusiasts of Economics. Dr. Smyk-Szymańska notes that it does not take into account the differences in characteristics that translate into differences in wages, e.g. education, work in specific professions or sectors of the economy. Dr. Lucas van der Velde, also from GRAPE, points out that the strict wage gap only takes into account working women and men. “There can be various reasons why people don’t work, for for example, women may have different threshold wages (the lowest rate of pay at which an employee would be willing to accept a specific type of work – ed.). “If this is the case, the difference will underestimate the extent of gender inequality,” notes the economist.
Adjusted wage gap
Dr. Magdalena Smyk-Szymańska points out that when we talk about wage inequalities, we would like to compare people doing similar or the same job with similar or similar qualifications. “If we take into account features such as education, experience, industries, company size and profession, it turns out that the wage gap in Poland is much higher than its raw value and Poland is no longer ranked so high” – comments Dr. Magdalena Smyk- Szymanska.
Eurostat also publishes data on the adjusted wage gap, which is pointed out by dr hab. Iga Magda, professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, also associated with the Institute for Structural Research. An important note here – the latest available data on the adjusted wage gap are from 2018. “According to the latest available data, the average adjusted wage gap, i.e. the unexplained part of the crude gap, amounted to 12.2 percent in Poland, compared to the average in the European Union of 11.2 percent.” – notes Prof. Iga Magda. The adjusted wage gap in Poland is therefore higher than the EU average and is in the middle of the European rate – 14th out of 30 countries of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association. For comparison, according to Eurostat data on the raw wage gap for 2018, Poland with a wage gap of 8.5 percent. was ranked sixth out of 36 countries.
The average adjusted wage gap for the European Union was 14.1%. The highest wage gap in 2018 was in Estonia (18.1%), Slovakia (17.2%) and the Czech Republic (17.1%). The lowest in Belgium (-0.1%), Sweden (7.4%) and Luxembourg and Denmark (9.2%).
In the analysis for Konkret24, Dr. Lucas van der Velde cites his own estimates of the adjusted wage gap based on data from the Compensation Structure Survey. Dr. van der Velde’s estimates take into account differences in education, seniority, company size, industry and profession. According to data from 2018, men in Poland earned about 13% of the gross income. more than women.
GUS on wages of women and men
Another look at the differences between the earnings of women and men give analysis of the Central Statistical Office. According to data for October 2020, the average monthly gross salary of women was PLN 5,343.07 and men PLN 6,126.15. The average monthly salary of men was therefore approx 14.7 percent higher than women’s wages. In recent years, this relationship has been increasingly beneficial for women. In 2008, the average wage was 23 percent higher than in 2008. higher, in 2010 – by 17.7 percent. higher, in 2012 – by 20 percent, in 2014 – by 20.6 percent, and in 2016 by 18.5 percent.
In October 2020, the average hourly wage of men was on average higher by 13.6 percent from the average hourly wage of women. In this regard, similar results have been recorded in recent years. In 2008, by 15.6 percent. higher, in 2010 by 9 percent, in 2012 – by 13.5 percent, in 2014 – 13.9 percent, in 2016 – 12.1 percent.
The Central Statistical Office also analyzes data on salaries in various occupational groups. In each of them, men’s wages were higher than women’s. In the study for October 2020, the Central Statistical Office points out that in three groups of occupations, the remuneration of men was approx. higher – among representatives of public authorities, senior officials and managers; among specialists; among industrial and artisan workers. “Women’s salaries were the closest to men’s salaries among farmers, gardeners, foresters, fishermen and office workers. In these occupations, women earned up to about 4% less than men” – noted the Central Statistical Office.
Report from 2015: “Gender pay gap in Poland is relatively high compared to other European countries”
Authors published in 2015 report “Wage inequalities between women and men. Measurement, trends, explanations” estimated the crude wage gap in Poland at around 10 percent. women’s pay. The revised estimates of the wage gap then oscillated between 14 and 24 percent, with an average of around 19 percent. This level of wage inequality has remained at a similar level in Poland for 20 years.
“Unjustified by the characteristics of employees, the difference in pay between women and men in Poland is relatively high compared to other European countries” – noted the authors of the report. They assessed the wage gap in the public sector as relatively low, but the gap in the private sector as one of the highest in the European Union. The estimates presented in the report concerned the wage gap in 2012 in the public and private sectors. They were performed using the method proposed by the economist Hugo Ñopo, using age, length of service, education and forms of ownership as control variables.
The report also addressed the problem of flexible remuneration components – bonuses or bonuses. According to estimates, the wage gap in this area in Poland exceeded 30%. and was the ninth highest among the 23 countries of the then European Union included in the list.
“You can always choose the method in which the country looks good”
‘Comparisons between countries are inherently problematic because gender inequality can have different origins,’ Dr Lucas van der Velde notes, adding that different methods of estimating the wage gap differ in their ability to capture the sources of gender inequality. “You can always choose the method in which the country looks good” – concludes the expert.
Prof. Iga Magda, when asked whether the data on the wage gap is a field for manipulation, replies that not necessarily. “It is not easy to understand and keep track of changes in data and their sources, not to mention econometric analysis and estimation of the adjusted wage gap” – notes the expert. He adds that the government is not addressing this issue. “It is more convenient to show the raw low gap for Poland calculated by Eurostat. Not to mention that, for example, the same recent data show a negative raw gap in the public sector and 13 percent in the private sector” – he concludes.
Main photo source: Piotr Nowak/PAP