The Pink Tax

Pink Tax refers to price discrepancy that calls out products and services marketed to women that cost more than identical versions marketed to men. About five years ago, the issue got a lot of attention when New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs found many instances of gendered pricing. The pink tax is not an actual tax, the additional revenue from the women’s product does not go to the government. Very few state and local governments have regulations to prohibit gendered price discrimination. The U.S. federal government does not, though bills have been introduced. A study that compared 800 products across 90 brands specifically targeting a particular gender showed that toys and accessories targeted at women/girls were 7% more expensive than those targeted at men/boys.The same stood for children’s clothing at 4% more for girls, and 8% more for adult women. A whopping 13% more for personal care products and 8% more for senior or home healthcare products. This phenomenon however, is not limited to just western countries. In India too, women pay pink tax on a wide variety of products and services marketed specifically to them.

Most discussions of the pink tax are not about an actual tax, but in one instance they are: import tariffs. In the United States, clothing companies pay higher import tariffs on women’s items such as silk shirts, wool jackets, blazers, leather shoes, and golf shoes according to a study published by Texas A&M University’s Mosbacher Institute, which focuses on trade, economics, and public policy. On the men’s apparel side, import tariffs are higher on cotton shirts, wool suits, synthetic fiber suits, and swimwear. Some goods have no gender-based tariff difference, while others have large differences. Overall, tariffs on women’s items are sinificantly higher. Clothing companies can price both items equally, which means either the producer, the retailer, or the consumer takes a hit. A 2007 lawsuit by clothing companies against the U.S. government tried but failed to eliminate these tariff discrepancies.

Social scientists and retail experts say that the pink tax stems from the fact that society in general, typically, holds women to a higher standard when it comes to their appearance. One way to beat pink tax is to not fall prey to the bright pink packaging. Go for generic versions instead as they usually do the same job for cheaper. Evidence of gendered price discrimination clearly exists, even if there is room to debate why it exists or how serious or expensive a problem it is.

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