Economic researcher Marcel Fratzscher believes that equal pay for men and women in Germany is still a long way off. “Equal pay for equal work will not exist in the foreseeable future,” said the President of the German Institute for Economic Research to “Zeit” (Saturday/special edition).

“Women’s employment today represents the greatest untapped economic potential. Better pay and thus higher employment for women could help to reduce skills gaps,” said Fratzscher.

A number of women would like to work more, but there is a lack of adequate childcare options. In addition, spousal splitting and mini-jobs provide “little incentive for women to work at all or significantly more hours after starting a family.”

Big differences even in full time

However, there are still big differences even in full-time work: According to the Federal Statistical Office in March, three out of four women working full-time earn less than men – and in some cases very significantly. For 40 percent of the women affected, their earnings are at least 30 percent lower. This emerges from figures that Sahra Wagenknecht, member of the Bundestag, requested from the statistics office. A total of 34 percent of the women affected receive up to 30 percent less. 26 percent of women working full-time earn as much or more than men.

The gap is also reflected in the official figures on average gross earnings per hour. Nationwide, the average for men in 2023 was 26.63 euros and for women 22.54 euros. The differences can be explained, among other things, by the fact that many of the jobs often performed by women have low hourly wages. In other words: men are more likely to work in jobs that are better paid.

According to EU rules, if the work is the same or of equal value, the wages must actually be the same. The EU Pay Transparency Directive agreed in 2023 is also intended to ensure that the so-called gender pay gap decreases.