The Pink Tax: How Women Pay More for Similar Products

The Pink Tax: How Women Pay More for Similar Products

Tax Day

This last week was Tax Day or the last day to file taxes from the previous year. Tax day is typically April 15 of every year, except when it falls on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Part of living in a democratic country and enjoying the benefits of a free society is paying a portion of our income to taxes and contributing to the “overall good of society.” There’s a lot of debate over how much taxes we pay, who pays taxes, whether tax money should fund certain things, and which tax credits benefit the economy, but overall, we operate in agreement to the idea that taxes are inevitable–just a part of life.

The Wage Gap

I’ve been thinking about other money inevitabilities we also unspokenly agree to, but which aren’t explicitly talked about. For example, just a few days before Tax Day, on April 10th, Equal Pay Day is symbolically designated to raise awareness of the gap in pay that exists between genders. I think it oversimplifies the issue to view it strictly as a gender issue since socioeconomic issues play into making this a reality. Some people still question whether the pay gap exists, but overwhelming evidence shows that it does.

Pay Gap Infographic
The Pay Gap by race. White women make 82 cents for every $1 made by a white man. Hispanic women are most affected, making 61 cents to every white male’s $1.

The Pink Tax

There’s something else affecting personal finance that gets seems to be discussed even less than whether women are earning equal wages for the same work, and that’s how much women are paying for equal products. On average, women pay more per year for products like shampoo and essential personal care items simply because the package is designed to be more feminine, hence the “Pink Tax” name.

A study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that women’s products cost an average of 7% more than similar products for men:

  • 7% more for toys and accessories
  • 4% more for children’s clothing
  • 8% more for adult clothing
  • 1% more for personal care products
  • 8% more for senior/home health care products

The study states that in 1994, California estimated that women paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men. In 1994!! The New York study was released near the end of 2015.

Here are some pictures with examples from the study:

The Pink Tax

The Pink Tax

The Pink Tax

The Pink Tax

For more examples, check out the study here: From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer (A Study of Gender Pricing in New York City). 

What can you do about it?

Raising awareness has helped ban this type of pricing in places like New York City and California. Miami-Dade also made this practice illegal in 2017.

Death and taxes may be inevitable, but being charged more than a product is really worth is not. Stores charge more for certain products because they can–as long as people buy the product at a specific price. With the internet, comparing the prices of products is easy and can help you make decisions about where and what to buy. While some products marketed toward men and women do vary in ingredients, fabric (in the case of clothes), or color, not all vary significantly. Some products are actually identical other than the packaging! Items like razors, some shampoos, and deodorants, for example, can be used by both genders without loss in quality or experience. Choosing an unscented version of the “male” product can save you from overpaying for the same product. The same is true for buying a generic brand of a “female” product with the same ingredients as the name brand.