The ‘pink tax,’ explained

Legislators take aim at price discrepancies between men’s and women’s products.

LaylaBird / Getty Images

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill prohibiting companies from gender-based pricing, or else face a hefty fine, per The Sacramento Bee.

New York enacted a similar law in 2020, and both aim to end the so-called “pink tax.”

But it’s not a tax

It’s when similar products are priced higher when marketed to women. Often, those products are pink — like these lady laxatives.

A 2015 report from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs analyzed 794 products and found that women’s products cost more 42% of the time.

  • Toys intended for girls were priced an average of 7% higher (e.g., a Radio Flyer scooter that cost ~$25 more in pink than in red).
  • Personal care products were 13% higher (e.g., Schick razor cartridges that were $3.50 more when marketed for women).

Similar bills have been introduced at the federal level, but haven’t passed.

Will the laws help?

One 2021 study doubted legislative impact and necessity after failing to find evidence of significant disparities when comparing personal care products and their ingredients.

Others point out that it’s only one part of a larger problem that includes the wage gap.

For now, one tip to avoid the pink tax is to buy gender-neutral items. Or, choose the blue razors, which work just as well.

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