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The Gender Pay Gap in Rural Scotland

Funded by the Scottish Government, this scoping study explored the extent of the gender pay gap in rural Scotland, how it has changed in recent years, and potential reasons that might explain it.

The research found that, using data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and based on hourly median earnings for full-time employees only, the largest decrease in the gender pay gap between 2012-2018 occured in mainly rural local authorities to the point at which females were earning more than males in 2018 (i.e. there was a negative gender pay gap of -1.9%).

The gender pay gap in islands and remote rural local authorities peaked at almost 20% in 2016, but has also declined substantially since then to 4.5% in 2018 (although it has demonstrated considerable variability over the 2012-2018 period).

Although the reports findings are generally positive for rural Scotland, we need a better understanding of why these patterns exist. Is there, for example, a positive trend in terms of more women in mainly rural local authorities entering the full-time labour market in well-paid jobs leading to a reducing gender pay gap? Or is this actually a reflection of more challending trends, such as women removing themselves from the full-time labour market completely and therefore not showing up in our data? It may be that these women can't find appropriate full-time work, or can't access appropriate full-time work, due to additional caring responsibilities or poor public transport availability.

More research is needed to build on this scoping study to explore these factors in more detail.

The report from this work can be downloaded here. More information on this project is available from Dr Jane Atterton (


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