You may have heard of the pink tax when discussing products such as personal care and hygiene items for women. The pink tax refers to gender-based price disparities – products marketed towards women tend to cost more than the same products marketed towards men (think razors, deodorant, shampoo, etc.,). However, if you thought this phenomenon was just relegated to small, everyday products you would be wrong. It affects so much more than your razors, ladies.
According to data, women are paying more for real estate, car ownership, and health insurance without even realizing it. Here’s what you need to know about the pervasive pink tax (and strategies to combat it).
Why women are paying more for homes
You may be wondering why women are paying more than men for real estate if the market is, well, the market. It’s not like there are special price tags on homes when the buyer is a woman. That being said, a research study conducted by Jerry revealed that single women pay 2% more than single men when buying homes but sell their homes for 2% less. This results in an extra cost of $24,000 for women in the home buying and selling process. Women also pay on average 0.04% higher mortgage rates than men. Blame it on the gender pay gap. Since women make less money, they need to borrow more, resulting in lower credit scores and higher interest rates.
The most important thing women can do to counteract these trends is research, research, research. Dive deep into market conditions to get the timing right, whether you’re buying or selling a house. Look into the value of a home so you can get the best deal as a buyer or a seller. And make sure you work with real estate professionals who truly have your back and can help you negotiate.
It’s also important to improve the health of your credit score to access more advantageous borrowing rates. Use a tool such as a debt payoff calculator to decrease your total debt before buying a home, as your debt-to-income ratio affects your score.
The pink tax affects car ownership too
Jerry data also revealed that the pink tax affects car ownership – women may pay up to $7,800 more than men throughout a car’s lifespan. The factors that affect this number include vehicle purchase price, repair service costs, and insurance prices.
“The data shows that women were quoted approximately $22.94 more than men on the same auto repair when they neglected to ask for a price, and were quoted about $117.12 more than men for the same new car,” according to Jerry. As for car insurance, there was no huge difference in terms of premiums between men and women, though this pattern changes depending on where you live. Women pay higher insurance premiums than men in four states: Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, and North Dakota.
To combat these disparities, shop around and know your stuff. Push back on the initial quotes you receive when buying a car or taking your car for a repair and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the price breakdown and negotiate.
13% more expensive
on average, is what a New York pink tax study found women’s products to be when compared to men’s products.
The pink tax and health insurance
But wait, it gets worse. The pink tax even sneaks its way into health benefit packages. How is that possible if men and women working for the same company can buy the same coverage for the same price? “One way to look for differences in health benefit packages designed mainly for women versus those designed mainly for men is to compare offerings in companies where the workforce is dominated by one gender,” according to Mercer.
Mercer analyzed the difference in benefits between large employers with workforces that are at least 65% female and those with workforces that are at least 65% male. The research revealed a trend when it comes to plan design – in the companies with predominant female workforces, the average per-employee cost of health benefits was lower, but only because the coverage is less generous. And when you look at the deductibles, they are consistently higher in the female groups. This means that despite less-generous plans, employees in mostly female organizations end up paying more for coverage, especially family coverage.
So, consider health benefits carefully when job hunting – it can end up making a difference, especially if you’re planning on conceiving. Some companies offer fertility benefits, which can affect your financial planning as much as your family planning.
Some women don’t feel that the pink tax is impeding their life though. A new Credello survey on millennial women and money revealed that a significant number of women who purchased a home, car, car repair service, car insurance or health insurance on their own said they feel they paid the same fees as men for those services. But they may not have known how much a man would have paid for the same service. In addition to small daily products and major investments like houses and cars, we also see the pink tax on toys or equipment marketed to girls like bikes and helmets. The pink tax follows us from childhood to adulthood.
Though some states and retailers are working to make changes — over 20 states have passed laws around reducing or eliminating the pink tax — there is no federal ban currently in the works. It’s unfortunate that there is a pink tax, but awareness is one of the first steps to avoiding its pitfalls.