Photo (cc) by Steven Pisano
Women not only earn less than men for doing similar work, they also pay more for comparable products and service. It’s been coined the “woman tax” or the “pink tax” and it’s costing women big bucks.
According to a new study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), women pay about 7 percent more on average than men to purchase similar products. The disparity in gender pricing adds up over a woman’s lifetime.
“Over the course of a woman’s life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing disparities is significant,” the study said. Although the DCA didn’t estimate the annual financial impact of gender pricing, “the findings of this study suggest women are paying thousands of dollars more over the course of their lives to purchase similar products as men.”
The DCA analyzed gender pricing for about 800 items, which had clear male and female versions, from more than 90 brands. The items included toys and accessories, children and adult clothing, personal care products and home health care for seniors.
The DCA found that women’s products have higher price tags than men’s 42 percent of the time. In comparison, men’s products cost more than women’s 18 percent of the time.
Gender-pricing starts in infancy and continues through old age, according to the study. For example, check out these gender cost gaps:
- Baby shirts: Girls’ shirts cost 13 percent more than baby boys’ shirts.
- Toys: Girls’ toys ring in at 11 percent more than boys.
- Shampoo: Women’s shampoo is priced about 48 percent higher than men’s shampoo.
- Canes: Women’s canes are roughly 12 percent more than men’s.
- Personal urinals: Senior women have to pay up 21 percent more for a personal urinal than a man does.
So, who’s to blame for this unfair pricing strategy and who can change it? Forbes contributor Tim Worstall writes:
The answer is, almost certainly, women to both of those questions. The point being that in a market economy we can all make choices. … Thus it is we, through our purchases, that define the pricing structures of manufacturers. … And if they can get women to pay more than men do then by their lights they’re acting entirely rationally. It’s the women’s behavior therefore that needs to change. For example, go wild and buy the blue razors, why not?
Although I (sort of) agree with Worstall, I also think he’s oversimplifying matters. If reaching equality in gender pricing was really as easy as trading a pink razor for a blue one, I don’t think we’d be talking about this issue today.
Do you agree with Worstall that women are to blame for gender pricing because they continue to purchase female-specific items with higher price tags than men’s? What do you think of the “pink tax?” Sound off below or on our Facebook page.