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S. Korea's income gap by gender widest among OECD nations

All Headlines 10:51 November 30, 2012

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea remained the nation with the largest income gap between men and women among advanced countries with the gender pay gap hardly narrowing over the past decade, a report showed Friday.

According to the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea found its gender income gap to be 39 percent, the highest among 28 surveyed member nations, as of 2010.

It means that South Korean women are paid 39 percent less than their male counterparts, lower than the OECD average of 15 percent.

Japan came next with a gender wage gap of 29 percent, while Germany and Israel tied at third with 21 percent. The United States, Canada, Finland, Switzerland and Austria marked an income gap of 19 percent, said the report.

The OECD report also showed that Hungary and Poland had the lowest gender pay gap of 6 percent each, followed by New Zealand with 7 percent, Norway with 8 percent and Belgium with 9 percent.

South Korea's gender income gap was 40 percent in 2000, also topping the OECD list at that time, meaning the country has only narrowed the gap by 1 percentage point over the 10 years.

Japan's difference in gender income improved from 34 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2010, while Israel bridged the gap from 28 percent to 21 percent and the U.S. narrowed it from 23 percent to 19 percent over the 10-year period.

Experts attribute South Korea's widest gender income gap to the country's stiff job market for women and poor social services for working moms. In Korea, women typically quit their jobs when they give birth and focus on child bearing and return to work as temporary workers, who are not entitled to full-time benefits.

"We need more efforts to create better jobs (for women) along with the expansion of social services," said Kim Young-ok, a researcher at the Korean Women's Development Institute. "European countries have good social welfare systems and the public sector provides quality job opportunities and absorbs female workers."


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