Gender pay gap starts with pocket money

// 21 August 2011

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pink piggy bank on white background

A Halifax survey published earlier this week revealed that boys receive more pocket money per week than girls:

…on average boys are earning £6.41 a week compared to girls pocketing just £6.09 – 5% less, but a narrower gap of 32p this year compared to 40p in 2010. Girls aged 12-15 are only 11p behind the boys, receiving £7.24 a week.

Girls are also slightly more likely to feel they receive the right amount of pocket money than boys (53% v. 48%).

Interestingly, in 2001 girls received an average of 12p more than boys.

Obviously it’s difficult to extrapolate from this survey as so many factors could play in part in the results, but they do suggest some form of (most likely subconscious) sexist bias towards boys or an undervaluing of girls. Apparently girls had to do less for their money ten years ago in terms of household chores – I wonder if this is still the case today? And could the switch from 2001 be linked in some way to the increased gender role policing of young children along traditional lines in the past few years?

Whatever the cause, this backwards step is clearly not good news.

Image by kenteegardin, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.

Comments From You

Barnaby Dawson // Posted 22 August 2011 at 1:00 pm

A subtle point here: Is it correct to assume that the financial needs of female and male children are the same?

Behavioural differences should, arguably be ignored as these are choices. However, there are biological differences in the calorie intake of children. The dietician Juliette Kellow provides this table in a blog piece:

Age Calories per day

Boys Girls

1–3 1,230 1,165

4–6 1,715 1,545

7–10 1,970 1,740

11–14 2,220 1,845

15–18 2,755 2,110

Adults 2,550 1,940

These calorie intakes are significantly different and I would expect food to be a major component of pocket money spending.

Of course there may well be other biologically influenced spending I haven’t considered too but it does prove the point that assuming equal financial needs isn’t necessarily valid.

Laura // Posted 22 August 2011 at 8:06 pm

Pocket money tends to be spent on leisure items, not basic sustenance, so I don’t think you’ve proved much, Barnaby!

Barnaby Dawson // Posted 22 August 2011 at 9:10 pm

Well this article suggests that a lot of pocket money goes on food and high calorie drinks (it is from 2005):

Its seems likely that a child with a higher calorific need is likely to spend more on snack foods and calorific drinks to sate the same level of hunger.

More generally I think its an interesting point that the cost of living will not be the same for women and men. I don’t have much idea how big the difference would be or in what direction but my intuition is that its more expensive to be a women at least if one sticks to gender social norms.

It’s a quite complicated question when you think about it. Its not only the differences in the cost of necessities but also differences in the cost of conformity and, of course, plain discriminatory charging.

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