What’s Unique about Puerto Rico’s Gender Pay Gap?

In most places around the world and in nearly every field, men earn more than women. Puerto Rico, however, is something of an exception. Figures from 2016 show that Puerto Rican women working full-time earned a median salary of $24,486 USD, which is 3 percent higher than the average male worker’s salary of $23,711 USD. Eileen Segarra Alméstica, an economics professor at the University of Puerto Rico, says that the main reason for this gap is education. Census data shows that 29 percent of women in the U.S. territory have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 20 percent of men.

One step forward, one step back:

  • But that's only part of the story. When men and women have comparable educational backgrounds, the all-too-familiar gender wage gap reappears.
  • For example, for Puerto Rican workers whose highest education level is a high school diploma, men outearn women by 13 percent. Men with bachelor’s degrees take home 22 percent more than women with matching degrees.
  • In the United States as a whole, women made an average of 76 percent of what men made in 2016.
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