German word of the Day: Verdienstunterschied

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected] • 30 Jan, 2023 Updated Mon 30 Jan 2023 16:42 CEST
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Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

An important term for equal pay activists or those simply wanting a wage increase.


Why do I need to know Verdienstunterschied?

Because it is a word which often appears in reports and debates on the topic of wage differences between men and women in Germany.


As Germany has one of the largest gender pay gaps in Europe, it's a topic that is not likely to disappear from the headlines any time soon. 

What does it mean?

der Verdienstunterschied is a compound noun made up of der Verdienst – meaning “income” and der Unterschied – meaning "difference".

While it can be used in a number of contexts relating to differences in earnings, it appears most often in discussions on the topic of the gender pay gap.

To talk about wage differences specifically related to sex in German, you can simply use the term Gender-Pay-Gap, or the slightly less catchy geschlechtsspezifische Lohngefälle ("sex-specific wage gaps").

The most recent report from the Federal Statistical Office showed that, in 2022, women in Germany earned on average €4.31 per hour less than men - a wage gap of almost a fifth.

This puts the so-called unbereinigt ("unadjusted") gender pay gap at 18 percent in Germany, though there is a clear east-west divide in the difference in earnings between women and men.

According to the statistics, the pay gap between women and men currently stands at seven percent in eastern Germany, while the western states have a much higher gender pay gap of around 19 percent.

The differences in salary between women and men are often down to the fact that women generally take up more Teilzeit ("part-time") work and they also are more likely to have jobs that pay less.


Use it like this:

Seit 2002 ist der Verdienstunterschied zwischen Frauen und Männern fast konstant
Since 2002 the wage gap between men and women has been almost constant
Thüringen gehört zu den Bundesländern mit dem geringsten Verdienstunterschied
Thuringia is one of the German states with the smallest wage gaps



Sarah Magill 2023/01/30 16:42

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