Research finds that the ‘pink tax’ is a myth

Back in 2019, Attorney General Keith Ellison tweeted:

The idea of a “pink tax” rests on the idea that women are charged more for the same good or service than men. If it was only the case that women were being charged more for a different service than men, then we wouldn’t need to conjure the notion of a “pink tax” into being to explain the different prices.

Because of this I have always been somewhat skeptical of the idea that a “pink tax” exists. My haircuts are basic affairs — there isn’t much left to cut — compared to the cut and color my wife typically gets. Of course these things cost different amounts.

As for sanitary products, often cited as a glaring example, men do not use them at all so that explains the entirety of the “pink tax” on such products.

And if it really is the case that the razors I use and those my wife uses are the same and that one is cheaper than another, why not just buy the cheaper ‘male’ one?

New research confirms the skepticism. A paper by economists Sarah Moshary, Anna Tuchman, and Natasha Bhatia titled ‘Gender-Based Pricing in Consumer Packaged Goods: A Pink Tax?‘:

…investigates a controversial application of a textbook pricing practice: gender-based price segmentation, which has allegedly created a pink tax whereby products targeted at women are more expensive than comparable products marketed toward men.

They “find that gender segmentation is ubiquitous, as more than 80% of products sold are gendered, but, crucially, the authors:

…show that segmentation involves product differentiation; there is little overlap in the formulations of men’s and women’s products within the same category. Using a national dataset of grocery, convenience, drugstore, and mass merchandiser sales, we demonstrate that this differentiation sustains large price differences for men’s and women’s products made by the same manufacturer.

In short, the prices are different because the products are different.


In an apples-to-apples comparison of women’s and men’s products with similar ingredients, however, we do not find evidence of a systematic price premium for women’s goods: price differences are small, and the women’s variant is less expensive in three out of five categories.

The authors conclude that:

These results call into question the need for and efficacy of recently proposed and enacted pink tax legislation, which mandates price parity for substantially similar gendered products.

Attorney General Ellison does not seem to have mentioned the “pink tax’ since 2019, which is just as well because it doesn’t exist.