Gender pay gap closing a little further

Man and woman walking up the stairs, man leads the way
In 2020, the difference in average gross hourly earnings of male and female employees in the public sector decreased by 2 percentage points relative to 2018. The pay gap remained unchanged in the private sector. This is evident from the Pay-gap Monitor, a biennial report published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). When adjusting for differences between men and women in, for example, education level, job level, years of experience and age, the wage gap has decreased by 1 percentage point since 2018 in both public and private sector.

Unadjusted wage differences between men and women, 2008-2020
 Private sector (%)Public sector (%)Private sector trend line (%)Public sector trend line (%)

In both these sectors, women’s average hourly wage was lower than men’s in 2020. Women in the public sector earned on average nearly 2 euros per hour (6 percent) less than their male colleagues. In the private sector, they earned almost 5 euros (19 percent) less. Two years previously, the public sector gender pay gap was still 8 percent; the gap in the private sector remained unchanged.

Although year on year, the pay gap decline is modest, there has been a linear decrease in both private and public sector since 2008. These developments are statistically significant. It is therefore certain that the wage gap has narrowed over the period 2008 to 2020 inclusive.

Adjusted wage difference in 2020 slightly smaller than in 2018

The level of hourly wages is influenced by various factors, such as the industry someone works in, their job and their education level. Adjustments are made for such differences between the male and the female population. In this way, hourly wages are compared of men and women with similar job and background characteristics (such as age, experience and education level).

After application of this correction, in 2020 the wage gap stood at 6 percent in the private sector and 3 percent in the public sector. In both sectors, this gap has narrowed since 2018, when it was 7 and 4 percent respectively. To what extent the adjusted wage gap can be attributed to wage discrimination cannot be determined based on this analysis.

Adjusted wage differences between men and women, 2008-2020
 Private sector (%)Public sector (%)Private sector trend line (%)Public sector trend line (%)

Pay gap eliminated among senior government staff

In the public sector, the salaries of women in senior positions were no longer behind those of their male colleagues in 2020. Whereas the gap in this sector was still 3 euros in 2008, by 2020 that gap no longer existed. In the private sector, women executives earn significantly less than their male peers. Moreover, the gap is closing only slowly. It amounted to 7 euros in 2008, which was reduced to 6 euros in 2020, representing a pay gap of nearly 20 percent.

Men are more likely to hold managerial positions than women. In the private sector, one in three managerial positions were held by a woman in 2020. At two in five positions, this share was slightly larger in the public sector.

Average gross hourly earnings of senior staff
   Men (euros)Women (euros)
Public sector20082926
Public sector20103027
Public sector20123129
Public sector20143130
Public sector20163332
Public sector20183332
Public sector20203535
Private sector20082720
Private sector20102821
Private sector20122822
Private sector20142923
Private sector20162923
Private sector20183024
Private sector20203226

Wider pay gap between male and female workers under permanent contracts

For the first time in this monitor, CBS has examined the extent to which the gender pay gap varies according to the type of contract. The adjusted wage difference is larger among people with permanent contracts than among those with fixed-term contracts. This is true for both the private and the public sector. In the latter sector, the adjusted wage difference between men and women with fixed-term contracts is not even significant. Among those with permanent contracts, the gap is 4 percent in the public sector and 9 percent in the private sector.

Adjusted wage difference between men and women by contract type, 2020
   Adjusted wage difference (%)
Public sectorPermanent4
Public sectorFixed-term2
Private sectorPermanent9
Private sectorFixed-term3
The adjusted wage difference between men and women with a fixed-term contract in the public sector is not significant.