February 26, 2016

Is there a “pink tax”?


A recent CNNmoney article highlights the findings of a study by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) on gender pricing differences for similar products. The article refers to these differences as “the pink tax.”

DCA’s study, entitled From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer, compared 794 products with similar male and female versions sold online and in New York City stores. Products in the study had similar branding, ingredients, appearance, textiles, and construction, attempting to minimize the differences between men’s and women’s products. The industries compared in the study included (1) toys and accessories, (2) children’s clothing, (3) adult clothing, (4) personal care products, and (5) senior home health care products.

The study found that, on average, women’s products cost seven percent more than similar male products. The greatest deviation was in haircare products, where women’s products cost, on average, 48% more. In general, women’s products cost more than similar men’s products 42% of the time, whereas men’s products cost more 18% of the time.

According to the study, its findings suggest that women are paying, over a lifetime, thousands of dollars more than men to purchase similar items. It conceded that there may be legitimate reasons for some of the price differences, but it stated that paying higher prices is often unavoidable for women because they do not choose what textiles or ingredients are used in products marketed to them.