australian-aid-white-2
Follow us on:
Search the Knowledge Hub

The gender pay gap in the health and care sector A global analysis in the time of COVID-19

International Labour Organization World Health Organization

2022

Global

Report/Paper

Workplace Gender Equality

The gender pay gap in the health and care sector A global analysis in the time of COVID-19

The gender pay gap in the health and care sector A global analysis in the time of COVID-19

Over the last two decades, we have been more aware of the need to eradicate gender equality in the world of work. Countries and the international community have taken concrete and coordinated measures toward this objective, such as the 1995 Beijing Declaration, and the target of minimising the gender gap in the labour force participation by 25% in 2025 by the G20 leaders at the 2014 Summit in Australia. But despite these and other steps, gender inequalities remain prevalent. The narrowing gap also appears to have stalled in recent years, with the pandemic likely to undermine some of the gains achieved over the years. 

The gender pay gap in the health and care sector A global analysis in the time of COVID-19 is the first of its kind—a global and sector-wide gender pay gap analysis utilising data from over 50 countries, representing about 40% of the sector’s wage employees worldwide. The report decomposes the gender pay gap in the health and care sector into two parts: the part that can be explained by differences in labour market attributes of women and men and the part that remains unexplained by differences in these attributes.  

The report makes it clear that the gender pay gap in the health and care sector would benefit the workforce. Its findings suggest that several interconnected strategies are needed. Moreover, it highlights policy considerations to address the gender pay gap in the sector. 

Highlights 

  • Despite the low participation of men in the health and care sector across countries, men are overrepresented at the top decile, especially at the top centile of the hourly wage distribution, where the gender pay gap is even wider. Women and men are not fundamentally different in terms of labour market characteristics, either within deciles of, or across, the hourly wage distribution. 
  • Using data spanning the period from the early 2000s to 2019, the report shows that the share of men in the global health and care workforce is growing, but at a pace insufficient to reduce the significant degree of feminization that characterizes the sector. 
  • Despite the increasing number of men joining the health and care sector in recent times, the high degree of feminization contributes to the sector’s undervaluation by society, with average earnings lower than that of other sectors. 
  • The health and care sector experienced fewer employment losses relative to non-health economic sectors because of the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • The global community needs to collect and analyse sector-specific wage data with sufficient frequency to allow for timely assessments of working conditions in the health and care workforce, including monitoring the gender pay gap within the sector.  
  • Investing in ensuring the decency of labour conditions in health and care jobs, including the formalization of informal jobs within the sector, would help make the sector more resilient and able to accommodate the ever-growing global demand for health and care services fueled by the ageing of populations.  
  • We need to promote pay transparency, establish legal instruments against pay discrimination, and change cultural gender norms and stereotypes – all these measures can be effective tools to reduce the unexplained part of the gender pay gap in the health and care sector.  

Contents 

  • Contents 
  • Foreword 
  • Acknowledgements 
  • Abbreviations 
  • Executive summary 
  • 1. INTRODUCTION 
    • 1.1 Why a report on the gender pay gap in the health and care sector? 
  • 2. THE HEALTH WORKFORCE ACROSS THE WORLD 
    • 2.1 Global and regional employment in the health and care sector 
    • 2.2 Employment in the health and care sector and degree of economic development 
  • 3. THE GENDER PAY GAP IN THE HEALTH AND CARE SECTOR 
    • 3.1 The raw gender pay gap in the health and care sector 
    • 3.2 Beyond the raw gender pay gap: identifying gender pay difference within subgroups 
    • 3.3 A factor-weighted analysis of the gender pay gap in the health and care sector 
    • 3.4 Comparing the gender pay gap in the health and care sector to the gaps in other economic sectors 
  • 4. FACTORS DRIVING THE GENDER PAY GAP IN THE HEALTH AND CARE SECTOR 
    • 4.1 The gender pay gap across the hourly wage distribution in the health and care sector 
    • 4.2 Labour market characteristics of women and men in the health and care sector across the hourly wage distribution 
  • 5. DECOMPOSING THE GENDER PAY GAP IN THE HEALTH AND CARE SECTOR 
    • 5.1 Simple decomposition: the explained and unexplained part of the gender pay gap in the health and care sector 
    • 5.2 Full decomposition: isolating the contribution from age and occupational category in the explained part of the gender pay gap in the health and care sector 
    • 5.3 What lies behind the unexplained part of the gender pay gap? 
      • 5.3.1 The motherhood gap in the health sector 
      • 5.3.2 The degree of feminization and wages of workers in the health and care sector 
  • 6. EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS AND THE GENDER PAY GAP OVER TIME IN THE HEALTH AND CARE SECTOR  
    • 6.1 The size and characteristics of the health and care workforce over time in selected countries  
    • 6.2 Evolution of the gender pay gap in the 21st century 
  • 7. THE EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON EMPLOYMENT AND EARNINGS IN THE HEALTH AND CARE SECTOR 
    • 7.1 The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the employment of wage workers in the health and care sector: the cases of Canada, Mexico and the United States 
    • 7.2 The changing characteristics of wage workers in the health and care sector as result of the COVID-19 pandemic: the cases of Canada, Mexico and the United States 
    • 7.3 The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on earnings among wage employees in the health and care sector: the cases of Canada, Mexico and the United States 
    • 7.4 The COVID-19 pandemic and earnings among workers in formal and informal employment in the health and care sector: the case of Mexico 
  • 8. THE WAY FORWARD TOWARDS REDUCING GENDER PAY INEQUALITIES IN THE HEALTH AND CARE SECTOR 
    • 8.1 Policy considerations 
      • 1: Targeted and gender-disaggregated wage data for the health and care sector 
      • 2: Decent jobs in the health and care sector 
      • 3: Social dialogue 
      • 4: Tackle the explained part of the gender pay gap by expanding education, fostering experience and reducing occupational segregation 
      • 5: Tackle the unexplained part of the gender pay gap by counteracting the undervaluation of highly feminized sectors and improving work-life balance to achieve gender parity in the workplace 
      • 6: Expansion of formal employment in countries where informality is a significant feature of the workforce 
  • 8.2 Towards more gender-responsive employment in the health and care sector 131 
  • Annex 1: National data sources 
  • Annex 2: Methodology for decomposing the gender pay gap in the health and care sector 
  • Annex 3: Global financial crisis and the evolution of employment in the health and care sector in selected countries 
  • References 

 

This report was originally published on the World Health Organization website. 

to top