Income is an important aspect of women’s economic independence. Women who are able to generate a sufficient level of income to meet their needs (which may also include dependents), who have control over that income, and who are able to maintain that income in the event of a shock (e.g. a relationship breakdown) can be considered economically independent.
With regard to income policy the Ministry focuses on:
- the distribution of income and/or earnings between men and women
- policy solutions to reduce the gap between men’s and women’s income and/or earnings (the 'gender pay gap')
- the measurement and monitoring of women’s income over time
- the distribution of assets and liabilities between men and women
- women’s retirement income prospects.
Income is a key enabler for women to achieve economic independence.
Using income as a proxy for economic independence has the advantage that it makes it possible to compare women’s level of economic independence over time.
There are, however, some caveats that should be taken into account when using income as a proxy for economic independence. It does not take into account any non-monetary aspects of economic independence, whether a person has control over the income, or whether the income is sustainable over time.
There are a number of different ways how income can be measured. For instance, when measuring the gender pay gap, the Ministry uses median hourly earnings as measured by the New Zealand Income Survey.