How much money will be quietly squeezed out of you in your lifetime as a woman that you shouldn’t have to pay for? Why are women’s clothes of the same brand always more expensive than men’s clothes?
Why are women charged more at hairdressers and dry cleaners? Often overlooked, these questions are in fact subtle ways in which gender-based price discrimination is taken for granted.
After comparing a large number of goods in the market, some American researchers found that businesses setting different prices for gender is not an isolated case, but has penetrated into all aspects of life. From the results of the research, 43% of the cases when women’s products are more expensive, while only 18% of the cases that men’s products are more expensive than women. On the contrary, the income gap between men and women, the average income of women in the United States is only 78.6% of men, which means that women not only make less than men, the cost of living is also higher than men.
Exactly which products contain the pink tax, allowing women to fall into the trap unnoticed? For the nearly 400 products surveyed by the Department of Consumer Affairs – DCA, women pay an average of 7% more than men for the pink tax. Among the specific product categories, personal care products (such as shampoo, razors, etc.) have the highest “pink tax” index.
If women’s products have higher material costs and higher technical content than men’s products, then there is no excuse for a higher price. But in most cases, this price difference is unjustified. For example, the same brand of two razors, in addition to a slightly different design, whether it is the same material or function, the men’s version is only $14.99, while the women’s version is $18.49.
As for various services, the price gap is even more significant. The most profound experience is a haircut, girls go to the haircut easily for hundreds of dollars, if boys get a haircut for over 100 dollars it would be considered whether it is blackmailed. Excluding additional services such as ironing and dyeing, girls still have to pay more with the same trimming, even if girls have more hair, why is there really such a big difference in price? In 2016, CBS did an experiment where two producers, male and female, took cotton shirts of almost the same style and size to a dry cleaner, and the female producer’s bill was $7.50, while the male producer was only $3.50. A trip to another store did not result in any difference either.
The existence of the pink tax is not a recent discovery; a 1991 study by American economist Ian Ayres found white women pay 40% more than white men for the same model of new car.
By 2015, a survey by the New York Consumers Association reported that the pink tax had not improved significantly. This cost of living enforces a high premium that often follows the average woman throughout her life. From buying toys as a child to buy crutches and adult diapers in old age, all ages and aspects of goods are subject to the “pink tax”. So how much more money do women pay from childhood to adulthood?
Bankrate, a U.S. media network, did a rough calculation of this money and concluded that the average American woman pays $1,350 per year in pink taxes. This amount is already higher than the per capita monthly income of low-income families in the United States. If the average life expectancy is 75 years, American women will have to pay at least $100,000 in pink tax in their lifetime. This insignificant price difference can accumulate into a tremendous amount over time. The DCA report concludes by stating that women consumers pay the least amount of pink tax during their lifetime as children, followed by their senior years. And in the long adult years, they are subject to price discrimination at every minute.
For well-off families, paying a few extra dollars per item may be inconsequential, but for women who are already in poverty, that money may be used to make a living, but it is being milked for no good reason. If tariffs and market monopolies are force majeure factors, some brands’ bias against women’s consumption can be changed. Many businesses believe women are better “conned” for their money, that they are more interested in the appearance and added value of their products than in their quality and performance. Second, the notion that women consumers are less price-sensitive and more “generous” with their money seems to persist in people’s minds, but it is completely without foundation.
In fact, for products like shampoo and jeans, which are tailored to gender, many women passively choose the price set for them. The seemingly insignificant difference reflects decades of ongoing gender discrimination.
Not all girls like pink, not all women pay close attention to the appearance of the product, and not all women are willing to pay for the cost imposed by the bias of the business. What women want is not “special privileges,” but to be treated equally as ordinary consumers.