Does someone earn more or less than one million euros over their entire working life? The answer has a lot to do with gender. There are also regional inequalities in terms of working hours.

A mother with her daughter

ÜAccording to a study, women in Germany earn only about half as much as men over their entire working life. In the west, the expected life income is on average around 830,000 euros for women, men come to an average of around 1.5 million euros. In eastern Germany, around 660,000 for women and just under 1.1 million euros for men can be assumed. This is the result of a study sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and the Free University of Berlin, which was published on Tuesday for the international “Day for Equal Pay”.

Children in particular lead to a reduction in lifetime income – significantly for mothers, but “almost not at all” for fathers, as the study said. Because mainly mothers take time off from the labor market. In addition, part-time is the “dominant form of employment” for prime-age women between 30 and 50.

Hardly any differences between older and younger mothers

Mothers who are in their mid-30s today could expect an income of 580,000 euros (West) and 570,000 euros (East) over the course of their lives. There is no significant difference between mothers of younger and older cohorts. In the case of childless women, however, the incomes approached those of men.

The frequently mentioned difference in gross hourly wages (gender pay gap) – it was an average of 20 percent lower for women in 2019 than for men – falls short, according to the Foundation. Because this would only take into account those who were active in the labor market at the time. How big the gap really is in the whole of working life is concealed.

For the study, the lifelong income for the ages of 20 to 60 was calculated, before taxes and duties and without transfers such as parental or child benefit. The basis is the data of almost 18,200 people from the Socio-Economic Panel, a representative repeat survey.

A second study also shows that employees in eastern Germany earn less and work longer than those in western Germany. This emerges from data from the statistical offices of the federal government and the federal states, which have evaluated the left in the Bundestag and which are available to the German Press Agency in Berlin.

In eastern Germany, for example, across all economic sectors, employees recently worked 63 hours more per year than employees in western Germany. According to this, there were 1,390 working hours per employee in eastern Germany in 2018 – 1327 in western Germany.

The gross monthly earnings in the manufacturing and service sectors are still significantly lower in eastern Germany than in western Germany at an average of EUR 2,833. Here it is 3371 euros. This number is from the end of 2019 and shows the situation for full-time, part-time and marginally employed workers. In the manufacturing sector, the difference is even greater at 3073 euros in the east and 4322 euros in the west.

“The division in the labor market continues even 30 years after the fall of the Wall”

Left MP Sabine Zimmermann, who evaluated the data, told the dpa: “The split in the labor market continues even 30 years after the fall of the Wall. In the east, on average, much less is earned, in many cases even with the same job, ”said Zimmermann. “An essential key for further harmonization is the strengthening of collective agreements and collective bargaining coverage, which are significantly weaker in the east than in the west.”

The unions deserved full support in their struggle for equal working conditions. For example, IG Metall’s demand to reduce the three-hour longer working week in the East German metal and electrical industry to the 35-hour week applicable in West Germany.