United Kingdom

Pay inequalities

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • For men, the earnings of both the low-paid and the high-paid have risen at the same proportional rate as average full-time male earnings throughout the last decade.
  • For women, the earnings of both the low-paid and the high-paid have risen at a slightly greater rate than average full-time male earnings.
  • The net results of this are:
    • For each of men and women, inequalities in earnings between the top and the bottom are unchanged over the decade.
    • Although there is still a gap between low-paid male and low-paid female earnings for full-time employees, this gap has narrowed over the last decade.
  • Low-paid women are paid around 10% less than low-paid men.  High-paid women are paid around 20% less than high-paid men.
  • A half of all part-time workers – both men and women – were paid less than £8 per hour in 2010.  While women predominate in part-time employment, the equality in the low-pay risks here suggests that the fundamental problem is the lowly status of part-time work per se, rather than any disadvantage that part-time female employees face relative to part-time male ones.
  • By contrast, the proportion of full-time female employees paid less than £8 an hour in 2010 was, at 21%, markedly higher than the 15% of full-time male employees.  Thus, while there are as many low-paid full-time men as there are low-paid full-time women (see the indicator on trends in low pay), the difference in these low-pay risks suggests that the fundamental problem here remains one of the disadvantages faced by full-time female employees compared with full-time male ones.
  • Pay inequalities for full-time employees are greater in London, the South East and East than elsewhere, with the differences being particularly great in inner London.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

In monitoring trends in low pay, its relationship with both average and high pay is also relevant.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph focuses on pay differentials.  It shows four statistics:

  • Gross hourly pay of full-time male employees at the 10th percentile, i.e. the pay of men one tenth of the way from the bottom of the full-time male pay distribution.
  • Gross hourly pay of full-time female employees at the 10th percentile, i.e. the pay of women one tenth of the way from the bottom of the full-time female pay distribution.
  • Gross hourly pay of full-time male employees at the 90th percentile, i.e. the pay of men one tenth of the way from the top of the full-time male pay distribution.
  • Gross hourly pay of full-time female employees at the 90th percentile, i.e. the pay of women one tenth of the way from the top of the full-time female pay distribution.

In each case, the statistics are shown as a proportion of average (median) hourly pay of full-time male employees thus providing a measure of earnings inequalities.  The left-hand axis shows proportions at the 10th percentile and the right hand axis shows the proportion at the 90th percentile.  The restriction to full-time employees only is to avoid the distorting effects of differences in the full-/part-time balance either by gender or over time.

The second graph shows, for the latest year, the distribution of employees across the pay spectrum with the data show separately for part-time women, part-time men, full-time women and full-time men.

The third graph shows, for the latest year, how the ratio for full-time employees between the hourly earnings at the 90th percentile and the hourly earnings at the 10th percentile varies by region.

The data source for all the graphs is the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and the data relates to the United Kingdom.  Some detailed changes were made to the ASHE survey base in 2004 and an adjustment has been made for this in the first graph.  The proportions in the second graph have been calculated from the hourly rates at each decile using interpolation to estimate the consequent proportion earning in each of the pay groups.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  ASHE is a large annual survey of employers.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

None directly relevant.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year As a percentage of full-time male median earnings
Men Women
10th Percentile 90th Percentile 10th Percentile 90th Percentile
1997 54% 209% 47% 166%
1998 54% 211% 48% 166%
1999 55% 212% 48% 169%
2000 55% 213% 49% 169%
2001 55% 218% 49% 170%
2002 55% 220% 49% 172%
2003 55% 219% 50% 173%
2004 55% 217% 50% 172%
2005 55% 219% 50% 177%
2006 55% 220% 51% 175%
200755% 221% 51% 175%
200855% 219% 51% 173%
200955% 219% 51% 174%
201055% 220% 52% 178%

Graph 2

Pay group

Men Women
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
< £8 per hour 15% 52% 21% 49%
£8 to £12 per hour 28% 21% 31% 26%
£12+ per hour 57% 27% 49% 24%

Graph 3

East 388%
East Midlands 353%
inner London480%
outer London395%
North East 334%
North West 361%
Northern Ireland 344%
Scotland 344%
South East 409%
South West 347%
Wales 335%
West Midlands 353%
Yorkshire and The Humber 343%