Women left behind in pay and pensions

GENDER pay-gaps are nothing new, but there is increasing awareness of the unfairness of the syndrome — at various levels.

London Underground, Mind the gap, gender pay-gap illustrationWorkplace pay scales are one area of concern; pensions are another. Longevity think tank Phoenix Insights is calling on government to help close the gap for retirees.

Over half of women canvassed in a study want more information about their workplace pension from their employer, and more regular communication that goes beyond the mandatory minimum.

Phoenix Insights also wants to make it a legal duty for employers to inform staff of the impact that any changes in their working hours (and resultant earnings) may have on their pension contributions.

A third of female workers reduce their hours for an extended period at points during their working lives for reasons that are explored in the report. It analyses women’s long-term finances through the workplace lens to see how life events may affect their working patterns, choices, and ability to save.

When it comes to earnings, women still trail their male counterparts in most OECD countries — but the gender pay-gap can vary.

Job-search engine Lensa analysed them all, based on median earnings for men and women.

The countries with the largest gender pay gap

Rank Country Most Recent Year Gender Wage Gap (%)
1 South Korea 2021 31.06%
2 Israel 2019 24.32%
3 Latvia 2019 23.22%
4 Japan 2021 22.11%
5 Estonia 2019 19.09%
6 United States 2021 16.86%
7 Canada 2021 16.67%
8 Finland 2020 15.98%
9 Cyprus 2019 15.61%
10 United Kingdom 2021 14.35%


South Korea has the largest pay gap of all the OECD nations at 31.06 percent. South Korean society places a strong emphasis on tradition, family, and group harmony. It’s a popular destination for ex-pats, especially English teachers.

Israel has the second-largest discrepancy at 24.32 percent. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have most of the available jobs.

In third place, with a 23.22 percent gap, comes Latvia. The Baltic country might not be the best in terms of equal pay, but it draws ex-pat workers and has a competitive cost of living.

The countries with the most equal pay

Rank Country Most Recent Year Gender Wage Gap (%)
1 Romania 2019 0.88%
2 Bulgaria 2020 2.55%
3 Belgium 2019 3.80%
4 Colombia 2019 4.00%
5 Norway 2021 4.60%
6 Costa Rica 2018 4.73%
7 Denmark 2020 4.99%
8 Ireland 2019 5.17%
9 Argentina 2021 6.25%
10 Mexico 2021 6.67%


The better ones:

Romania boasts the smallest gap at just 0.88 percent. Plenty of English-speaking job opportunities exist in the country’s capital and largest city, Bucharest.

Bulgaria has the second-smallest gap in the OECD — 2.55 percent — and is the second Eastern European country to make the list. Bulgaria has a small population and a low cost of living, making it a popular destination for ex-pats.

Belgium takes third spot, with a 3.8 percent gap. Home to the de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium has many English-speaking jobs available. Eurostar connection makes travel to and from the UK and other European countries practical.

Man and woman on scales, gender equality illustration