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Netherlands – Self-employed women earn less than men, but why?

26 June 2012

In the Netherlands self-employed women, or independent contractors (ZZP’er), earn far less than their male counterparts, the latest research by the Dutch Statistics Office (CBS) reveals. But why do men earn more than women?

According to the statistics, female contractors earn “significantly less” and, on average, their income is -40% below that of male contractors. In the first quarter of the year, there were around 750,000 independent contractors of which just over a third (35%) were women. 

The number of self-employed people in the country has grown rapidly in the past decade but like other categories of employment, the pay gap between women and men is, on average, quite wide.

The statistics show that in 2010, ZZP’ers typically earned €21,000. But men were able to take home an average annual salary of €26,000, compared to €15,000 for women and the CBS said that this was only in part due to the number of hours worked.

Hence the reasons for the pay gap lies elsewhere. One of the contributory factors is that women tend to work more often in sectors where wages are lower, such as in the recreational or cultural sector. Men, on the other hand, are represented in sectors that tend to pay them more money, such as construction.

Educational background also seems to make more of an impact for women than for men in explaining pay differences. Male contractors with various educational backgrounds are still able to earn around €26,000 on average while for women, those with a lower educational level tend to earn less than women who are highly educated. 

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