Saturday, April 03, 2010

Korea’s Income Gap by Gender Largest in OECD

By Kim Jae-won

Staff Reporter

Despite numerous improvements in women's social status, Korea is at the bottom of the list of advanced countries when it comes to the gap in income between men and women.

According to a report by the 30-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Korea found its income gap by gender to be the largest men among 22 surveyed member countries.

On average full-time female employees get paid 38 percent less than their male counterparts on the basis of statistics from 2003 to 2006. The gap is more than double the OECD average of 17.6 percent.

European nations showed their women workers were enjoying relatively better pay, grabbing top places on the list.

Belgium came first with a 9.3-percent income gap, followed by Poland and New Zealand, which both marked 10 percent. Denmark, Greece and France also appeared on the top 10 board with 11, 11.5 and 12 percent, respectively.

Japan's income gap by gender was the second largest among the OECD members with 33 percent.

The difference in Germany, Canada and the U.K. was also above the OECD average at more than 20 percent.

The report said sharing the burden of child rearing, which can be shown by more active use of "paternity" leave, is a key to narrowing the gap between men and women.

"As long as women rather than men take time off work to provide care for children, there will always be employers who perceive women as less committed to their career than men, and are therefore less likely to invest in female career opportunities and depress female earnings as a whole," the report said. Promoting flexible workplace practices also can reduce the income gap, it added.

Korean government officials said the income gap is big, as women quit jobs when they get pregnant, so work is under way to provide them with better day care services so they will be able to work with less concern about child rearing.

"We encourage companies to provide in-office childcare centers for working moms. It is mandated by law that workplaces, which have more than 500 employees, should establish childcare centers for workers," Lim Jong-hwan, an official of the Ministry of Labor, said.

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