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Study shows wage gap between men and women persists in Puerto Rico

The wage gap between men and women in Puerto Rico still persists, especially when educational and occupational levels are taken into account, according to an analysis by ETI Trends, a publication prepared by Estudios Técnicos, Inc. (ETI), based on recent data from the Census Bureau’s community survey.

The disparity in income is even greater when people’s educational level increases, the analysis shows.

“The median wages by educational level highlights a salary discrepancy between men and women despite the fact that wages by educational level for both genders continue to increase as more schooling is achieved,” said Lorena Franco, from ETI’s Economic Analysis and Policy Division, who prepared the analysis.

“For example, the wage gap — that is, the difference between the median salary between men and women with similar educational levels — with post-secondary studies or an associate degree was $3,219 compared to $3,019 in the case of those who only had a high school with a diploma or equivalent,” she said.

“This gap tends to widen as the level of schooling is more advanced. The wage gap for those with a bachelor’s degree was $6,294 and $11,953 for those with a master’s degree, professional degree or doctorate,” said Franco.

The data was published by the Census Bureau on March 17, 2022, with the results of the 2020 community survey. 

The analysis also highlights a difference between wage growth with increasing educational level. For example, the increase in median wages for men with post-secondary education or an associate degree and those with a bachelor’s degree was $10,630, while for women it was $7,555. Likewise, the difference between the salary with a bachelor’s degree versus graduate studies was $14,156 for men and $8,497 for women. It follows that men obtain greater benefit than women by increasing their educational level.

It is also clear from the census data that, in terms of the educational level for the population over 25 years of age, women represented 61.1% of the total number of people with advanced studies (associate degree, bachelor’s and master’s degree, professional degree or doctorate), compared to 38.9% in the case of men.

In 2020, the bachelor’s degree represented the academic level with the most marked difference in the amount of people; there were 277,433 women (62.5%) with this academic degree compared to 166,264 men (37.5%) with the same educational level, the study shows.

“The wage gaps by educational level for the two periods, 2015 and 2020, indicate a greater salary disadvantage in 2020 for women with an associate or post-secondary degree, high school with a diploma, and middle school or less,” said Franco.

“On the other hand, the 2020 Census Bureau data for median salary by occupation shows an average gap of $2,605 between the salary of a man and a woman in the same occupation. In addition, the median salary of women is on average 6.3% below the median salary of men with the same occupation and -2.3% of the median salary for the occupation,” Franco said.

The main occupations with the highest proportion of men were related to installation, maintenance and repair, construction and transportation. For these, the average wage gap was $936 in favor of women, given that in these three occupations women’s wages were higher (installation, maintenance and repair, material hauling and law enforcement occupations).

On the other hand, the main occupations with the highest proportion of women were those related to health, education and social services. For these, the average wage gap was $4,852 in favor of men.

Not only were there more cases where the male salary was higher, but the magnitude of the gap was greater in occupations where the proportion of women is high compared to occupations with a higher proportion of men, the firm pointed out in its analysis.

“The salary gap does not exist only in Puerto Rico but worldwide, and addressing it requires public policies that repeal those discriminatory practices that contribute to gender and race inequality,” said Franco.

“Evidence-based recommendations from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) include developing government-level data analytics to identify pay inequalities across sectors, increasing transparency of information on wages by gender and the development of specific measures to address the gap as well as educational tools on the subject for the population,” she added.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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