Pockets of Inequality in the Distribution of U.S. Pharmacists’ Wages and Salaries: A Gender Comparison

  • Manuel Carvajal Nova Southeastern University
  • Ioana Popovici Nova Southeastern University
  • Patrick Hardigan Nova Southeastern University
Keywords: gender disparities, income distribution, pharmacist workforce, wages and salaries


Background: The literature contains conflicting arguments regarding inequalities in the distribution of U.S. pharmacists’ wages and salaries and the existence of a gender earnings gap.  Some authors argue that the dispersion is small compared to other professions and there is no gap; others report that after controlling for number of hours worked, human-capital stock, and job-related preferences, male pharmacists earn higher wages and salaries than female pharmacists. 

Objectives: Estimate the central tendency and spread of wages and salaries of pharmacists practicing in the U.S., compare earning levels of male and female pharmacists, and examine the pockets of inequality within each gender.

Methods: The study used self-reported survey data collected from a random sample of licensed pharmacists practicing throughout the United States.  The sample consisted of 375 men and 279 women.  Means and standard deviations of wage-and-salary earnings for male and female pharmacists were estimated by age, number of hours worked, years of professional experience, marital status, type of pharmacy degree, main role as pharmacist, and type of practice site.  The spread of wages and salaries within gender was analyzed using the Gini coefficient.

Results: A total of 654 pharmacists provided answers to all relevant questions in the questionnaire (28.9% response rate).  Wages and salaries of male pharmacists exceeded those of female pharmacists, but the gap was restricted to practitioners with selected characteristics–older, married, with more experience, whose primary role was dispensing medications, and practicing in a hospital setting.  The greatest wage-and-salary inequalities were observed among older pharmacists, with more years of professional experience, and whose primary role was dispensing medications.  Different gender-specific pockets of inequality were identified in all variables studied and all categories within these variables.

Conclusion: The seemingly smooth gender-specific distribution of earnings in the pharmacy profession might be the result of opposing trends by different groups of practitioners that cancel each other when analyzed aggregately.  By estimating the wages and salaries for selected categories of pharmacists and examining the pockets of inequality within each gender, this study shed light into recent labor market developments and will hopefully stimulate further research into the dynamics of the pharmacist workforce.


Article Type: Original Research


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Received 2018-08-03
Accepted 2018-10-09
Published 2019-03-26
Pharmacy Practice & Practice-Based Research