Study: Women pay more than men for apparel imported to United States

Women model clothing on runway at fashion show

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Women in the United States pay systematically higher tariffs for imported apparel than do American men, says a new study from two researchers at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

On average, women pay tariffs that are 3 percent higher (15.1 percent) than those paid by men (11.9 percent). These facts stem from research recently published by Lori Taylor, an associate professor and director of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy at the Bush School, and Jawad Dar, a graduate research assistant.

Taylor says, “The tariff on women’s silk shirts, for example, is six times the tariff on men’s silk shirts. And our research has shown that he average tariff rate for women’s apparel is systematically higher than the average tariff rate for men’s apparel.”

In 2014, the researchers calculate that, Americans buyers of imported clothing and footwear paid at least $330 million more in taxes than they would have paid had there been no gender-based tariffs.

Buying goods manufactured in the United States will not help women to avoid the extra costs, Taylor says, because higher tariffs lead to higher prices for domestically produced goods.

Taylor says, “Prices are set in a global marketplace and are unlikely to change just because the United States imposes a tariff.  If the world price is $20 and the U.S. tariff rate is 10 percent, then the U.S. consumer pays $22, regardless of whether the item was manufactured at home or abroad.  Either way, American consumers overpay.  And when the tariff is higher for women’s goods than it is for menswear, American women really overpay.

More at the Bush School of Government and Public Service.