Stories | March 7, 2013

Celebrating International Women’s Day?

Here is a round-up of some of the relevant money-related gender studies in research.

8th of March is International Women's Day – a celebration of the world’s women.The day gathered traction in the 1970s and is an occasion to review progress in equality and as an opportunity to network and mobilise. In honour of the day, we've put together a summary of some money-related gender studies.

Equal pay
In the European Union, women were paid, on average, 17.1% less than men, figures from the 2012 Eurostat Yearbook show. The yearbook cites many reasons for the differences, including part-time working and attitudes towards career development and maternity leave. 

However, the psychology literature shows that men and women have different approaches when it comes to contending in a competitive environment and negotiating pay. Not only do women tend to be less confident about their relative ability than men, they shy away from wage negotiations, are more risk averse in a tournament (as payment levels are not guaranteed), and don’t perform as well as men when competitive pressures increase. This is true both in the workplace and at school. These differences in willingness to compete emerge very early on in life, contributing to persistent gender pay gaps in the workforce. 

Well-being gap
The economics of happiness is an area of study that examines how different aspects of life affect happiness. Economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, who are also partners outside of study, wrote in their 2009 paper The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness that a new gender gap was emerging in the United States and Europe – that of well-being. The pair could not offer any immediate answer as to why or what to do about it however the evidence clearly pointed to falls.

Play catch up
ING’s own research finds that men and women tend to save differently for retirement – and that by tending to delay, women are often in a more difficult position. The ING International Survey findings are explored in an animated video Who’s better with money. It concludes: “When it comes to planning for retirement, men are in the lead at the moment. The challenge is set for women to join them.”

Copy German women (or at least their footballers)
The world of sport can provide interesting illustrations of dynamics at work elsewhere in life. Sport and economics writer Simon Kuper explains the view that the stellar international successes of the women’s football team in Germany is partly credited with them picking up the best aspects of sportspeople around them.

It's a reminder that positive peer pressure – the type of influence that drives people to do better at school or improve their financial habits - can pay off in the long run.

eZonomics team
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