The Real Cost of the Wage Gap

Everyone’s familiar with the statistic that women earn on average 79 to 80 cents to a white man’s dollar in the U.S. But the real cost of the wage gap is a lot more nuanced than that.

The average man in America makes $10169 more than your average woman each year in the US though that varies by location race and industry according to 2017 data from the National Partnership for Women and Families. Over the course of a career that adds up to the average man making around half a million dollars more than his female counterpart in wages alone.

But that’s just base salary. If you take into account 401(k) contributions debt repayments retirement income and salary increases—all of which are more or less dependent on that initial wage—the gap increases dramatically and has ripple effects on every aspect of a woman’s financial life. If the gap were evened out the average working American woman would have enough money for 14 more months of child care or could pay off her student loan debt in just under three years.