World Bank’s Wrong About Gender Equity Laws And The Gender Pay Gap


We have an assertion from the World Bank that only some very few countries have strict employment equality laws concerning gender. That’s true enough. They then go on to assume that having such strict employment gender equality laws are a good thing. Will, for example, lower the gender pay gap. There’s no evidence at all that this is true. Thus the impetus to have the strict gender equality laws seems to lack a certain justification.

Only six countries in the world give women and men equal legal work rights


If you’re a woman and want to be on an equal footing with men, it’s best to live and work in Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg or Sweden. The World Bank, which has tracked legal changes for the past decade, found these were the only countries in the world to enshrine gender equality in laws affecting work. The bank’s women, business and the law 2019 report, published this week, measured gender discrimination in 187 countries

So, what effect does this have on the gender pay gap? Fortunately we’ve got those numbers all calculated the same way for us by the European Union:

For the economy as a whole[1], in 2016, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 16.2 % below those of men in the European Union (EU-28) and 16.3% in the euro area (EA-19). Across Member States, the gender pay gap varied by 20 percentage points, ranging from 5.2 % in Romania to 25.3 % in Estonia (Figure 1).

It’s not obvious that greater women’s employment rights leads to lower gender pay gap

Neither Romania not Italy are known as hotbeds of gender equality yet they have very low gender pay gaps. Estonia is not known as a place where women are oppressed either, but there’s a high gap there. There’s also no correlation with those countries that have strict gender equality enshrined in law and their pay gaps.

So, err, it would seem that the law isn’t the thing which determines the pay gap then.

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BarksintheCountryJonathan Harston Recent comment authors
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Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston

So I imagined the UK Equal Pay Act 1970? Pre-EEC/EC/EU note.


The WB is consistent. Consistently wrong.