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The Pink Tax

How Gender-Based Pricing Hurts Women's Buying Power

From the introduction

Much has been written about women as wage-earners, particularly the fact that they typically earn less than men. In 2015, a woman with median earnings working full time, year-round earned only 80 percent of what her male counterpart earned. This 20-percent difference is widely known as the “gender pay gap.” For a typical female worker, the pay gap adds up to nearly $10,500 over the course of a year and roughly $500,000 over a lifetime. This contributes to higher poverty rates among women. Research has shown that if women were paid the same as comparable men, the poverty rate among working women would be cut in half.

However, it is less well known that women also are disadvantaged as consumers – frequently paying substantially more than men for similar goods and services. Common products and services marketed to women, ranging from razors and soaps to dry cleaning, often cost more than similar products marketed to men. Manufacturers and retailers may claim that the price difference is due to higher costs for producing women’s products or providing services for women, but there is a great deal of evidence that there are significant price differences for practically identical products. In some cases, the only difference is the color. This markup has become known as the “pink tax.”