SAVVY SAVINGS 21: The Pink Tax and how to avoid it

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Women are consistently paid less than men for the same work. Currently, women make 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, a gender wage gap of 20 percent. For women of color, the gap is even wider.  To make matters worse, the disparity widens further because women often pay more for everyday items than men simply because of a “pink tax”.

If you aren’t sure if you’re paying the pink tax, answer a few questions. Are you a woman? Do you buy women’s products like feminine hygiene items, women’s clothing, women’s razors, women’s body wash? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, then you are indeed paying the pink tax.

This is not a literal tax, but a broad tendency for products marketed specifically toward women to be more expensive than those marketed for men, despite either gender’s choice to purchase either product. The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs conducted a study that concludes that women’s products are typically more expensive than men’s (in New York city) without reasonable cause. 

The classic example is those cheap razors for sale in most drug stores. No fancy moisturizing strip, no rust-free titanium, just a single blade. The “men’s” version is blue, the “women’s” version is pink. That’s the only difference, the color. But inevitably, the women’s version is more expensive than the men’s.

Products for women and girls cost 7% more than comparable products for men and boys.

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

These are the kinds of things you buy in a drug store, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, face cleanser. These kinds of products are prime offenders when it comes to charging women more for the “pink” products.

The easiest way to avoid the pink tax is to comparison shop when you can. Check out the “men’s” versions of razors, shampoo, and other personal care products. Browse men’s basics like t-shirts, button-up shirts and socks—chances are, you’ll pay less for products of similar, or better, quality. Unless you purchase the fancy razors with multiple blades and “moisture strips,” the only difference between generic old stick razors for men and women is that ours’s are pink, and theirs’s are blue. Surprisingly, color has little effect on the hair removal process. The easiest way to avoid the pink tax is to comparison shop when you can.

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