The Shocking “Pink Tax”
by Temerity Forthright
Last year the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) conducted the first-ever study of gender pricing of goods in New York City across multiple industries. The DCA studied the cost of everything from children’s toys to senior home health products, comparing almost 800 products that were gender-based.
In 30 of the 35 product categories analyzed, items for female consumers were priced higher than the same items for male consumers. And not by just a little bit. The DCA found that 42 percent of the time products marketed to women cost more, compared to products marketed to men costing more just 18 percent of the time.
Below is the DCA report on “Pricing Disparity Frequency Chart, All Industries.”
Total Number of Times Incidence
Women pay more 168 42%
Equal 157 40%
Men pay more 72 18%
Total 397 100%
Dr. Oz did a segment on his October 10th show about the Pink Tax, as it is called. He was shocked to find that products for women were more expensive than the identical products for men. His team looked at packaging, product quality, appearance, and performance. They found no difference – except for the color of the packaging and, of course, the price. In addition, some of the packaging was smaller, making the product more expensive per ounce or unit.
A 1994 study conducted by the state of California found that there was a significant financial impact in the disparity of gender-based pricing. The study estimated that women paid about $1,350 more annually for the same products and services as men. When you consider that women make an average of 79 cents on the dollar compared to men, the actual cost of products marketed to women is substantially higher.
Often times the only difference in a product is the packaging. Men’s products often are packaged in blue, while women’s products are packaged in pink, hence the “pink” tax.
This gender-based tax is not limited to personal care products. Women pay almost double what a man pays to have a shirt dry cleaned and pressed. That’s significant considering how much smaller the average woman’s shirt is compared to a man’s shirt. Articles of clothing made for women and girls are 8 percent and 4 percent higher respectively for the same type of clothing sold to men and boys.
Is it a myth about women paying more for car-related services? A 2011 study published in The American Economic Review showed that in car buying men received a better initial offer from car dealers than women. Northwestern University did a study on vehicle maintenance costs. A group of men and women called auto repair shops to inquire about radiator replacement. Men were quoted an average price of $383 while women were quoted an average price of $406.
Some aspects of this issue are difficult to explain and comprehend. Forty-five states charge a “luxury tax” on tampons because feminine hygiene products are not considered necessities. Things like groceries, over the counter medicines, and prescriptions are considered necessities and are therefore not subject to the same taxes. Trust me, feminine hygiene products are a very necessary part of a woman’s life!
The issue is now drawing national attention. Online retailer Boxed.com is lowering the cost on items traditionally sold at higher prices to women compared to similar products for men. State legislators are looking at making the pricing and taxing of products more gender equal.
Here’s the bottom line for women. Before purchasing personal care products such as disposable razors, deodorant, or lotion, look at the same products made for men. If the men’s product is cheaper – buy it – then compare the results.
When you take your shirts and pants in to be dry cleaned, ask your dry cleaner about the price difference for the same type of clothing for men. Check with your dry cleaner about getting a more equitable price. You get the idea.
Do your research! Find out the fair market value of goods and services before you go to the store or car dealership or even a lending institution. Women pay an average of four-tenths of one percent more in interest on a mortgage, according to MarketWatch. Become a savvy shopper.
Whether or not you want to shop for your clothing in the men’s and boy’s department, however, is a purely personal decision.