§ Mr. Kidney
To ask the Minister for Women what recent assessment she has made of the differences in earnings between male and female graduates during their working lives and the reasons for such differences. 
§ Ms Hewitt
The table shows recent analysis of the differences in earnings between male and female graduates in the UK.
Average annual earnings of graduates, 1999–2000 Age Men (£) Women (£) Percentage by which average male earnings exceeded those with females 20 to 24 16,738 14,592 14.7 25 to 29 23,302 20,154 15.6 30 to 34 30,448 24,939 22.1 35 to 39 36,948 27,774 33.2 40 to 44 36,949 26,691 38.4 45 to 49 36,696 26,113 40.5 50 to 54 38,153 26,549 43.7 All ages under 60 32,555 23,630 37.8
Labour Force Survey, September 1999 to August 2000 (pooled data).
This is a complex area and recent surveys offer various opinions for such differences. Relevant factors which contribute to an earnings gap between men and women at the early stages of their careers include the different career choices made by men and women and their different academic backgrounds and skills. The largest recent survey of final year under graduates indicates that women have systematically lower expectations than men of the salaries they will earn, both in their first posts and five years later.
Earnings differentials widen with age. This can be explained to some extent by the differences in labour market participation rates, employment continuity records, longer hours worked by male than female full-time employees and women's greater likelihood of having worked part-time for some or all of their careers.