Study: Women Pay Thousands More Than Men for Products

New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs looked at almost 800 products from more than 90 brands.

By Holly Ellyatt • Dec 12, 2015 Originally published Dec 12, 2015

This story originally appeared on CNBC

Women are paying thousands of dollars more over the course of their lives than men to purchase similar products, according to a study of the gender pricing of goods in New York City, which revealed widespread gender-based pricing disparities.

Comparing nearly 800 products with clear male and female versions from more than 90 brands sold in store and online, NYC's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which carried out the study into gender pricing, found that the women's version of products cost more than men's.

The industries studied for the report included toys and accessories, children's clothing, adult clothing, personal care products and home health care products for seniors.

The DCA found that, on average and across five industries, women's products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men. Specifically:

  • 7 percent more for toys and accessories
  • 4 percent more for children's clothing
  • 8 percent more for adult clothing
  • 13 percent more for personal care products
  • 8 percent more for senior/home health care products

The study reflected an average consumer lifecycle, from baby to senior products, providing a glimpse into the experiences of consumers of all ages, the DCA said.

In all but five of the 35 product categories analyzed, products for female consumers were priced higher than those for male consumers. Across the sample, the DCA found that women's products cost more 42 percent of the time whereas men's products cost more 18 percent of the time.

Giving some case studies, such as children's cycle helmets, scooters, shampoo and razor cartridges, the DCA showed how similar, or even almost identical products, can cost different amounts for men and women.

Over the course of a woman's life, the financial impact of these gender-based pricing disparities "is significant," the DCA said in its report.

In 1994, the State of California studied the issue of gender-based pricing of services and estimated that women effectively paid an annual "gender tax" of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men, the DCA noted.

"While DCA's study does not estimate an annual financial impact of gender pricing for goods, the findings of this study suggest women are paying thousands of dollars more over the course of their lives to purchase similar products as men," it continued.

Though there may be "legitimate drivers" behind some portion of the price discrepancies unearthed in this study, these higher prices are mostly unavoidable for women, the DCA said.

"Individual consumers do not have control over the textiles or ingredients used in the products marketed to them and must make purchasing choices based only on what is available in the marketplace. As such, choices made by manufacturers and retailers result in a greater financial burden for female consumers than for male consumers."

Holly Ellyatt

Assistant Producer, CNBC

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