Gender pay gap the largest among the 55-64-year-olds
In Belgium, the gender pay gap, i.e. the difference in hourly wages between women and men, amounted to 5.0% in 2021. This means that in 2021, women earned on average 5.0% less per hour than their male counterparts.
However, the gender pay gap among workers under 25 is negative (-0.1%), but increases significantly with age to 4.5% among the 35-44-year-olds and even 8.5% among the 55-64-year-olds.
This is what emerges from the calculation of the harmonised European gender pay gap published by Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.
Belgium ranks 5th at European level
And yet, Belgium performs better than most of the other European countries in terms of hourly wage equality between women and men. Indeed, only Luxembourg, with a negative pay gap of -0.2%, Romania (3.6%), Slovenia (3.8%) and Poland (4.5%) perform better than Belgium and Italy (also 5.0%). The average pay gap at European level is 12.7%.
Compared to 10 years ago, the gender pay gap has decreased by 4.4 percentage points in Belgium and by 3.5 percentage points in the European Union.
Disparities among sectors
In Belgium, the gender pay gap is the largest in the sectors ‘Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities’ and ‘Information and communication’, where it amounts to 11.2% and the smallest in two sectors where women earn an average hourly wage higher than that of men: ‘Mining and quarrying’ (-4.1%) and ‘Arts, entertainment and recreation’ (-0.2%).
The gender pay gap represents the difference between the average gross hourly wages of women and men, expressed as a percentage of the average pay for men. It is expressed as follows:
Gender pay gap = (hourly wage for men - hourly wage for women) / hourly wage for men
The gender pay gap is calculated based on the survey on earnings. The statistical population consists of all employees in enterprises:
- with at least 10 employees;
- whose main economic activity is classified under the NACE Rev.2 sections B-S (-O).
There are no restrictions according to age or working hours. The gender pay gap therefore includes both full-time and part-time employees.
The concept of “wage” applied includes paid overtime as well as premiums that are paid at each payment period. Examples include premiums for night or weekend shifts. Premiums that are only paid exceptionally, such as thirteenth-month pay or double holiday pay, are excluded.
All the EU Member States apply the same harmonised concepts and methods for the calculation of the gender pay gap. This makes it possible to compare the Belgian situation with the pay gap in the other EU Member States.