The Price of Blue and Pink - Gender Pricing Under… | tutor2u Economics
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The Price of Blue and Pink - Gender Pricing Under Scrutiny

There has been a lot of coverage in the media in recent days about a cluster of surveys which appear to show evidence of gender-pricing for more or less identical products - in other words price discrimination. 

In December 2015, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released a report covering 800 items and found that, on average, products for women cost seven percent more than similar products for men. In addition, across the entire sample, women’s products were priced higher 42 percent of the time. A couple of examples from their report are shown below!

The Times has followed up with their own survey and naturally it has been keen to expose gender price differences as part of the story. Consider the example below - different prices for what appear to be very similar five blade razors.

Some of my twitter followers have argued that the example above is not really price discrimination. After all, there is little to stop a lady buying the "male version" if they so want. Another person commented that the example chosen displayed some product differentiation albeit somewhat superficial!

Sometimes there are good reasons for price variations across gender for similar items

  1. They may have been sourced from different manufacturers in different countries and thus subject to variable import tariffs
  2. There might be subtle but important differences in the quality / supply price of ingredients

Tim Harford also makes some valuable contributions to the debate here on his web site

Whether or not systematic gender-based pricing is widespread, it will always be easy to find examples that look sexist.

Tim Harford

A columnist at the Independent has also chipped into the debate and prompted a heated debate in return!

Sexist marketing is unacceptable – the government needs to order an investigation into the findings. Of course, the ideal consumer world would be a utopia in which gendered products are abolished entirely. But, until then, I would settle for buying my Playmobil “fairy queen” ship from Amazon at the same price as the pirate ship

The Independent

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