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Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK

Business: The Economy

Women's pay lags behind

Women are still concentrated in low-paid occupations

Women's pay in the United Kingdom has lagged behind men's, with women earning a quarter less for equivalent work.

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The gap between men and women's pay is also higher in the UK than the average for the European Union, according to Eurostat, the EU's Luxembourg-based statistics office.

British women earn on average only 73.7% of men's wages, compared to 76.3% in the EU as a whole.

"The average EU woman has a long way to go before achieving equal pay with the average man," said Eurostat.

Women's pay is most equal in Scandinavia and the former East Germany, where women's pay averages 89.9% of men's, while the gap is greatest in Greece, at 68%.

Structural differences

The pay gap partly reflects the differences in women's and men's occupations.

There are many more women in low-paid clerical jobs, while there are more men in higher-paid management posts and in factory jobs.

In addition, women in the workforce are on average less well educated than men, with 51% receiving only a basic secondary level education or less, compared to 43% of men.

Finally, working women are younger on average than men, reflecting the fact that many leave the workforce to raise children.

But the Eurostat says that even taking these factors into account, women are 'systematically' paid less, by around 15%.

The figures are based on data gathered between 1994 and l996, and exclude employment in farming, health, and education.

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