The gender income gap is a highly relevant consumer market barometer, one that companies cannot afford to ignore when assessing market potential and making business decisions at all stages, from market entry and product development to marketing and advertising. Women are already the key decision maker for many purchases within the household, and today’s modern female consumers with their rising incomes are driving a greater share of consumer expenditure. Euromonitor International forecasts that in 2030 the largest income gap between men and women will be in the Middle East and Africa, although Asia Pacific will be the only region with deteriorating gender income inequality in the period through to 2030.
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- Globally, women earned an average annual disposable income of US$6,516 in 2013, 33.6% less than what men earned in the same year. Although the 2008-2009 global financial crisis has worsened the gender income gap (especially in poorer countries, where women were disproportionately affected by the global economic downturn), gender income equality globally has slowly improved over the past decades;
- However, in the Asia Pacific region, the gap between male and female incomes has been widening significantly. In 2013, women in Asia Pacific earned 38.2% less than men, which was a larger gap than 31.7% in 2000. Gender income inequality is persistent in the region (especially in South Asia), because it is rooted in not only in culture and tradition (thus preventing women from accessing education and employment opportunities) but also in legal difference in the treatment of men and women (e.g. laws that prevent women from owning property, accessing credit or gaining employment);
- Asia Pacific’s widening gender income gap is also due to the fact that men and women concentrate in different industries. Amid the region’s robust economic expansion, driven mainly by manufactured exports, men go to work in fast-growing manufacturing industries and enjoy big gains in real wages, whilst women stay in lower-paid traditional services sector (such as domestic services, hotels and catering) and see their wages lag behind. In China, women earned 19.6% less than men in 2000, but in 2013 their average annual disposable income was a massive 40.7% lower than that of men;
- Middle East and African women’s average annual disposable income was 65.1% less than men in 2013 – the largest gender income gap in the world. Within the region, Israel has the smallest income gap (31.9%) and Egypt the largest (81.8%). The region’s large income gap is mainly due to low female labour force participation, despite a rising level of educational attainment by women;
- Euromonitor International forecasts long-term persisting gender income inequality across and within regions. In 2030, the global average annual disposable income for women will reach US$9853 (in constant terms), which will be 51.2% higher in real terms than the female average disposable income in 2013, but which will be 35.7% lower than the average annual disposable income received by men in 2030. This will be a greater income gap than in 2013, when the global average annual disposable income for women was 33.6% less than that of men, and the deterioration will come entirely from the Asia Pacific region.