Women in Work Index 2017

The potential $2 trillion prize from closing the gender pay gap


This year’s update of the Women in Work Index shows that the OECD has continued its gradual progress towards greater female economic empowerment. The Nordic countries, particularly Iceland, Sweden and Norway, continue to occupy the top positions on the Index.

We also explore the gender pay gap in more detail and the time it will take for each country to close the gap at current rates of progress. The gains from closing the gap are substantial: achieving pay parity in the OECD could increase total female earnings by US$2 trillion.

View the key findings below for highlights from our research and explore the results further using our interactive data tool. We provide more detailed analysis and commentary in the full report which you can download below.

Key findings

  • Iceland, Sweden and Norway remain the top 3 performing OECD countries.
  • The UK experienced a small improvement in its performance, rising from 14th to 13th position in 2015.
  • Poland stands out for achieving the largest annual improvement, rising from 12th to 9th due to fall in female unemployment and an increase in the full-time employment rate.
  • Over the longer term there have been more significant movements in country rankings. Israel and Poland stand out for improving by more than 10 positions since 2000, while the US and Portugal have lost ground.
  • There are significant economic benefits in the long-term from increasing the female employment rate to match that of Sweden. The GDP gains across the OECD could be around US$6 trillion.
  • Fully closing the gender pay gap could increase total female earnings by US$2 trillion across the OECD. However, at current rates of progress, the average OECD country would take almost a century to close the pay gap.


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