The Male-female Earnings Gap for Nurses in Germany: A Pooled Cross-sectional Study of the Years 2006 and 2012


Ulrike Muench, Hans Dietrich

July 14, 2017

The aim of this study is to examine male-female earnings of nurses in Germany. Understanding and addressing differences in earnings by gender is important because differences in pay accumulate over a nurse’s career and can lead to substantial disparities between genders, especially if they systematically affect one of the largest occupations for women.

While the literature on the gender pay gap across the social and medical sciences is extensive (Blau et al., 2009a,b; Gravelle et al., 2011; Jagsi et al., 2013; Lo Sasso et al., 2011), only a handful of studies have conducted analyses in nursing (Jones and Gates, 2004; Kalist, 2002; Muench et al., 2016, 2015). Evidence suggests that the pay gap in nursing exists across clinical specialties (Muench et al., 2015) and that new graduate nurses are as affected as nurses unlikely to have left the labor force for child rearing (Muench et al., 2016). Our study adds to the literature by extending this research beyond the U.S. nursing labor market to the German nursing labor market. This allows us to examine a different set of possible explanations for the earnings gap that one cannot easily test in the U.S. context.


Unadjusted monthly earnings for full-time male nurses were 30% higher, or 700 Euros more, than monthly earnings for full-time female nurses. In the fully adjusted analysis, male nurses out-earned female nurses by approximately 9.3%, or 260 Euros per month. Follow-up analyses suggested that better outside options exist for male than female nurses in the German labor market, while we found no support for gender differences in motivation.