How much more women are spending on haircuts, mortgage loans, cars, and more thanks to the Pink Tax

Kamil Macniak /

According to Forbes, the gender pay gap has generally narrowed, albeit slowly, since the 1960s. While that is some good news, the wage gap is not the only reason women have less purchasing power than men.

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You won’t find it in the IRS tax code, but the so-called pink tax is real, it’s relentless, and there’s hardly a corner of the economy where women can’t get less for more. The pink tax has been on the national radar for years, but awareness doesn’t always translate into action. With just a few days left in 2021 and the Christmas shopping season in full swing, the pink tax creates two different price tags on almost all of the things people buy.

What is the Pink Tax?

In 2015, the New York Department of Consumers (DCA) published a study that confirmed and quantified a long-held suspicion – that women paid more than men for almost identical things that both sexes buy regularly.

The 75-page study examined goods that are common to all ages and stages of life in all major industries and are sold at all major retailers.

The study was called “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer” – and the title tells the story.

In every industry and in every age group, products for girls or women were more likely to be more expensive than similar products for boys and men.

A pink Radio Flyer scooter costs twice as much as an otherwise identical red one – also for boys ‘and girls’ helmets and backpacks. Nearly identical toys, jeans, blazers, shampoos, razors, shaving creams, lotions, shirts, braces, bladder pads, and walking sticks cost more if marketed to girls or women, and the list goes on.

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Well, they’ve fixed that since 2015, haven’t they?

Little has changed in the six years since the NYDCA report outlined the reality of the pink tax to the penny, according to a 2020 report by Intuit / Mint, recently updated for 2021.

The report estimates that women, girls, and the people who shop for them spend $ 1,351 more per year than people who buy non-pink tax items that are marketed to men. That’s more than $ 108,000 over an 80-year life.

But the pink tax also extends to services. Women pay 40% more for haircuts, 64% more for dry cleaning, and 0.4% more for mortgage loans.

On the way to the heart of the Christmas season, it seems that the pink tax is actually alive.

Read more: 3 alarming reasons women lag behind men in terms of their finances

The Auto Pink Tax: Women also pay more to get around

Remember that the winter holidays also bring the traditional car buying season. Here, too, the pink tax strikes.

According to a study by car insurer Jerry in 2021, women pay more at almost every stage of vehicle ownership. They pay an average of $ 117.12 more than men to buy a car, $ 22.94 to repair it, and women pay $ 142 more per year to own a car than their male counterparts.

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Marketing is responsible for part of the Pink Tax

The obvious origin of the pink tax lies in gender discrimination. While that certainly plays a role – especially with things like cars, which involve preconceived notions – there is more to it than that.

Much of it is marketing. According to Intuit / Mint, the industry term for packaging products that are to be sold specifically to women at a premium is “shrink it and pink it”. These products cost 42% more. Some of this is due to legitimate production cost increases associated with adding color, special graphics, or different packaging to part of a larger production run. In other cases, women’s products cost more because data on women’s pricing is less sensitive than men.

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But the problem goes much deeper than Fifth Avenue

In late December 2020, Ms. magazine published a research report on the origins of the pink tax that costs women billions of dollars annually. The report found that gender government policies were the root cause of the problem.

Virtually every country in the world has been using the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System to classify traded products since 1988. The system distinguishes between men’s and women’s products with different product codes, and different product codes often receive different duties and therefore different tax rates. Retailers are over-pricing high-tariff items to offset tax costs.

According to Cambridge University, import duties on gender-specific goods around the world almost always tax higher taxes on products for girls and women – even if the products are the same – based on their gender code.

The report also found that this type of gender tariff inequality was much less common in countries where women are more prominent in government.

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About the author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. Award-winning writer Andrew was formerly one of the youngest national columnists for the country’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the editor for the business section of amNewYork, Manhattan’s most popular newspaper, and worked as an editor for, a financial publication in the heart of the Wall Street investment community in New York City.

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