Women pay more than men for certain personal-care products, according to a recent report, and potentially even for home mortgages and auto purchases.
The “pink tax” may extend beyond bathroom products, a new report suggests.
Women pay more than men for certain personal-care products, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, and could even pay more for big-ticket items like home mortgages and auto purchases. Activists and lawmakers have long railed against a so-called “pink tax,” which they argue forces women to pay more than men do for almost identical products.
The GAO — at the request of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) on Women’s Equality Day 2016 — analyzed retail price data and federal consumer complaint data, reviewed academic studies and interviewed experts to examine gender-related price differences in consumer goods and services.
The office found that average retail prices were “significantly higher for women’s products than for men’s” in five out of 10 categories of personal-care products, including underarm deodorants, body deodorants, shaving cream, designer perfume and mass-market body sprays. Meanwhile, men’s versions of shave gel and nondisposable razors ran at a significantly higher price.
“GAO found that the target gender for a product is a significant factor contributing to price differences identified, but GAO did not have sufficient information to determine the extent to which these gender-related price differences were due to gender bias as opposed to other factors, such as different advertising costs,” the report authors added.
The report also looked into non-gender-specific products and services like mortgages, finding some limited evidence that “women as a group pay higher interest rates on average than men in part due to weaker credit characteristics.”
And the authors’ review of auto purchases and repairs, based on studies from 1995 and 2001, discovered that “a seller’s expectation of what customers are willing to pay and how informed they seemed can differ by gender, which can affect the price customers are quoted.” They cautioned that their research into goods and services not differentiated by gender had “important limitations,” including non-representative samples.
Still, Maloney called the trend “worrisome, especially given the gender wage gap women also face.” Women in the U.S. make 80 cents on a man’s dollar on average, and women of color can make even less; meanwhile, women hold almost two-thirds of outstanding student debt in the country, according to a recent study from the American Association of University Women. A separate 2017 LendingTree survey found that millennial women carried 30% more debt on average than men, despite having slightly higher credit scores.
“This report makes clear that we need to further research these inequities, but what sticks out to me most is how the gender pay gap seeps over to things like mortgages and loans — compounding this issue and putting women at an even greater financial disadvantage,” Maloney told Bustle.
These differences are borne out in previous research, with one 1994 report from the state of California estimating that women pay a “gender tax” of $1,351 per year. A 2015 analysis from New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs across multiple industries, meanwhile, found that women’s products cost an average of 7% more than similar men’s products.
“In all but five of the 35 product categories analyzed, products for female consumers were priced higher than those for male consumers,” that report found. “Across the sample, DCA found that women’s products cost more 42% of the time while men’s products cost more 18% of the time.”
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