Sustainable development in Germany - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Equality – Promoting equality and a partnership-based division of responsibilities

Indicator 5.1.a: Gender pay gap

(Evaluation of the development of Germany in the reporting year 2019 as reporting year from indicator report 2021)


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This overview includes additional information on the indicators presented above, such as a brief definition of the indicator and a description of the politically determined target value, as well as the political intention for selecting the indicator.

Definition of indicators (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

The indicator is a percentage figure showing the gender pay gap as the ratio of the average gross hourly earnings for women to the average gross hourly wage of men.

Target and intention of the German Government (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

Differences in pay between men and women in modern working societies are a sign of social inequality. A narrowing of pay disparities is an indicator of progress on the road to equality. The German Government has therefore been pursuing the target of reducing the pay gap to 10% by 2020 and maintaining it until 2030.

Data state

The data published in the indicator report 2021 is as of 31.12.2020. The data shown on the DNS-Online-Platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2021.

Last modification of code (data) 2021-03-09: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window
Last modification of code (text) 2021-09-10: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy

The indicator presented here shows the unadjusted gender pay gap. It simply uses the percentage ratio between the average gross hourly rates of pay. Factors such as qualification levels, hours worked and occupational experience profiles are not taken into account.

The data for the indicator are based on the four-yearly wage structure survey conducted by the statistical offices of the Länder in the form of a representative sample survey with a disclosure obligation covering a maximum total of 60,000 businesses. On the basis of these data, results are calculated, broken down by age group, education level, performance group, activity category, collective agreement coverage, company size class and economic sector, and the resulting adjusted gender pay gap (GPG) is published. For the interim years, the rates of change from the quarterly wage survey are used to extrapolate the unadjusted GPG. When the adjusted and the unadjusted GPG are calculated, the EU categorisation is used, in which employees in agriculture, forestry and fishing and in public administration, defence and compulsory social security as well as employees of microenterprises are not taken into account.

According to provisional figures, the average unadjusted gender pay gap between women and men in 2019 was 19%. This means that the average gross hourly pay earned by women was about a fifth lower than that earned by men. Over the longer term, a slow but steady narrowing of the unadjusted gender pay gap is evident in the whole of Germany. It stood at 22% in 2014, which is three percentage points higher than in 2019. If the trend recorded over the last five years continues, the target will not be achieved in 2020 or in 2030.

At the same time, the picture for Germany is not a uniform one. There are considerable differences between Länder: the highest unadjusted GPG in 2019 was 25% in Bremen, while in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in Thuringia the gap was only 6%. Pay levels generally, however, were lower in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia than in Bremen.

Investigations into the causal factors behind the GPG can be conducted every four years on the basis of the detailed results of the wage structure survey. The latest available findings date from 2018. The factors that determine pay differentials are subject to long-term evolution processes and are therefore fairly stable over the course of time. The findings show that structural causes account for 71% of the gender pay gap, in other words the differences are partly due to the fact that women often work in sectors and occupations where pay rates are low, and they more rarely attain managerial positions. They are also more likely than men to work part-time or to have mini-jobs. The remaining 29% of the pay differential corresponds to the adjusted GPG of 6% in 2018. Compared with the unadjusted GPG, the adjusted GPG figure is considerably more uniform across the Länder. In 2018, the adjusted gap ranged from 4% in Berlin to 7% in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg and Saxony.

Comparative figures for the European Union are also available for 2018. At 20%, the unadjusted gender pay gap in Germany for 2018 lay considerably above the provisional European Union average of 15%. Of the 28 EU states in 2018, only Estonia, with 22% had a higher gender pay gap. The countries with the lowest gender differentials in gross hourly pay were Luxembourg, with 1%, and Romania, with 2%.

This summary table illustrates the evaluations of the indicator by status of previous years. This shows whether the weather symbol for an indicator has been stable or rather volatile in the past years. (Evaluations from the indicator report 2021)


5.1.a Gender pay gap


Reduce the gap to 10% by 2020, maintained until 2030






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