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Press release from The Iona Institute
March 7, 2012 - Data contained in the latest Quarterly National Household Survey released today by the CSO confirm that the gender pay gap is mostly the result of many women choosing to work part-time.
The figures show that over a third of Irish working women work part-time as against only 12 percent of men.
In addition, they show that 73 percent of women who work part-time want to work part-time. In other words, they are not seeking full-time work. (See Table 1a of today's National Household Survey).
Figures released by the European Commission last week show that on average women in Ireland earn 17 percent less than men. This is in line with the EU average and is only one percent less than the Swedish figure despite the fact that Sweden has easily available, State-subsidised day-care which is often touted as the answer to the pay gap.
In Sweden as in Ireland, a major reason for the gender pay gap is the fact that so many Swedish women choose to work part-time.
Therefore, the only way to reduce the gender pay gap to zero would be to close off the option of part-time work which would be impossible to achieve and also against the wishes of huge numbers of women.
In other words, beyond a certain point, efforts to further close the gender pay gap are both impractical and against the choices many women make.
Policy-makers must keep this in mind when examining this issue.