The gender pay gap was a problem in Estonia, but not solely as a result of discrimination, Kaspar Oja, an economist at the Bank of Estonia, wrote in the central bank’s blog on Wednesday.
In 2014, Estonian women earned on average €1.50 less an hour than men. About 50 cents of the difference came from men working in jobs with higher average salaries, and around €1 came from men earning more in the same professions, Oja wrote.
According to Oja, the pay gap might be smaller if problems preventing the market from playing were solved in this case. For instance, if day care for children were more easily accessible, mothers would not have to stay at home for so long before they returned to work.
“There might be several reasons behind the difference between the salaries of women and men, and these might not be connected to discrimination,” Oja wrote.
The gender pay gap might also point to customs and laws which prevented more equal salaries. “If the market doesn’t function, its balance isn’t the best it can be. If market restrictions were eased, the volume of the economy would increase, and the salaries of both women and men would rise,” Oja added.
He also pointed out that hiring a man instead of a woman simply out of personal preference would be very expensive for employers.
“If someone wants to hire a man only because of his gender, they would have to pay more due to the pay gap. The price of gender discrimination for an employer is €3,000 euros a year on average, because that is the difference between the labor costs of a man and a woman in the same position,” Oja wrote.
Editor: Dario Cavegn