Gender pay gap in Bulgaria has worsened, but still better than EU average

The gender pay gap in Bulgaria widened from 12.3 per cent in 2008 to 13.5 per cent in 2013, but was still better than the European Union average, going by figures released by EU statistics office Eurostat ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8 2015.

The difference is that while Bulgaria’s gender pay gap has increased by 1.2 percentage points, between 2008 and 2013 the gap across the EU decreased by 0.9 percentage points.

The gender pay gap represents the difference between average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees and of female paid employees as a percentage of average gross hourly earnings of male paid employees.

Bulgaria also has a higher proportion of women in management positions than across the EU, according to Eurostat figures for 2013.

While the EU average for the proportion of managers that are women is 33 per cent, in Bulgaria the figure is 37 per cent – like the share of women in total employment, still less than half.

In the EU, the share of women in total employment in the 20 to 64 age group was 46 per cent. In Bulgaria it was slightly higher, at 47 per cent.

Eurostat said that in 2013, the gender pay gap was 16.4 per cent in the EU, ranging from less than five per cent in Slovenia to more than 20 per cent in Estonia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany.

The statistics agency said that differences between females and males in the labour market do not only concern wage discrepancies but also and along with it, the type of occupations held.

Though representing 46 per cent of employed people, women were under-represented among managers, with only a third being female in 2013 in the EU.

On the contrary, women were over-represented among clerical support workers as well as among service and sales workers, accounting for around two-thirds of employed in these occupations.

The gap between men and women in the labour market was also significant as regards the type of employment held. In 2013, one employed woman out of three (31.8 per cent) worked part-time, compared with fewer than 1 man out of 10 (8.1 per cent).

In 2013 in the EU member states, the gender pay gap was less than 10 per cent in Slovenia (3.2 per cent), Malta (5.1 per cent), Poland (6.4 per cent), Italy (7.3 per cent), Croatia (7.4 per cent), Luxembourg (8.6 per cent), Romania (9.1 per cent) and Belgium (9.8 per cent).

At the opposite end of the scale, the gender pay gap was more than 20 per cent in Estonia (29.9 per cent), Austria (23 per cent), the Czech Republic (22.1 per cent) and Germany (21.6 per cent).

Compared with 2008, the gender pay gap has dropped in 2013 in most EU member states.

The most noticeable decreases between 2008 and 2013 were recorded in Lithuania (from 21.6 per cent in 2008 to 13.3 per cent in 2013, or -8.3 percentage points), Poland (-5.0 pp), the Czech Republic and Malta (both -4.1 pp) and Cyprus (-3.7 pp).

In contrast, the gender pay gap has risen between 2008 and 2013 in nine member states, with the most significant increases being observed in Portugal (from 9.2 per cent in 2008 to 13.0 per cent in 2013, or + 3.8 percentage points), Spain (+3.2 pp), Latvia (+2.6 pp), Italy (+2.4 pp) and Estonia (+2.3 pp).

At EU level, the gender pay gap has decreased slightly, from 17.3 per cent in 2008 to 16.4 per cent in 2013.

Among EU countries in 2013, the largest disparities in employment rate between men and women were recorded in Malta (79.4 per cent for men and 49.8 per cent for women, or a difference of 29.6 percentage points), Italy (19.9 pp) and Greece (19.4 pp), and the smallest in Lithuania (2.6 pp), Finland (2.8 pp), Latvia (4.2 pp) and Sweden (5.0 pp).

It should be noted that those member states with the highest female employment rates are generally also those with a high share of employed women working part-time in 2013.

Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria have all a female employment rate above 70 per cent and a share of part-time employment among females well over 30 per cent. The noticeable exceptions are Finland and Estonia, which combine a high female employment rate and a low share of part-time employment for women.

At EU level, a third (33 per cent) of managers was female in 2013.

Conversely, women accounted in 2013 for around two-thirds of all clerical support workers (67 per cent) and of all services and sales workers (64 per cent).

In 2013 across the EU member states, women were particularly under-represented among managers in Luxembourg (while accounting for 44 per cent of employed persons, 16 per cent of managers are women), Cyprus (48 per cent vs. 19 per cent), the Netherlands (47 per cent vs. 25 per cent) and Croatia (46 per cent vs. 25 per cent).

In contrast, the share of female managers was more representative of the proportion of women in total employment in Hungary (the share of women was 46 per cent among employed persons and 41 per cent among managers), Latvia (51 per cent and 44 per cent) and Poland (45 per cent and 38 per cent).

In every member state, women were over-represented among clerical support workers in 2013, with Ireland (while accounting for 46 per cent of employed persons, 80 per cent of clerical workers are women) and the Czech Republic (43 per cent vs. 79 per cent) having the highest proportions of women in these occupations.

In Bulgaria in 2013, the percentage of women among clerical support workers was 73 per cent (EU average 67 per cent), among services and sales employees 59 per cent (EU average 64 per cent) and in craft and related trades, 27 per cent (EU average 11 per cent).

(Illustration: Mark Normand/



The Sofia Globe staff

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