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Why Are There So Few Female Top Executives in Egalitarian Welfare States?

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Author Info

  • Henrekson, Magnus

    ()
    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Stenkula, Mikael

    ()
    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

Abstract

We identify pertinent institutions governing the structure of payoffs with regard to female career progression. Drawing on recent insights in behavioral economics, we hypothesize that interactions between psychological mechanisms and the institutional setup may be important determinants of cross-country differences in the level and evolution of female representation in executive positions in the business sector. We test this proposition informally by exploring whether it can be used to account for some of the observed differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian countries in this respect. Three particularly important conclusions emerge: (i) broad welfare state policy promotes high female labor force participation, but blunts incentives to pursue top executive positions in the business sector; (ii) therefore, it is likely to be misleading to use the share of female executives as a proxy for gender equality in welfare states; and (iii) psychological mechanisms are likely to amplify the effects of policies and institutions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 786.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 21 Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in The Independent Review, 2009, pages 239-270.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0786

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Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
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Keywords: Career choice; Career incentives; Gender equality; Parental leave; Household production;

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  1. Davis, Steven J. & Henrekson, Magnus, 2004. "Tax Effects on Work Activity, Industry Mix and Shadow Economy Size: Evidence from Rich-Country Comparisons," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 560, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1997. "Policy Watch: The Family and Medical Leave Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 175-186, Summer.
  4. Muriel Niederle & Alexandra H. Yestrumskas, 2008. "Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges: The Role of Institutions," NBER Working Papers 13922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bonke, Jens & Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Smith, Nina, 2003. "Timing and Flexibility of Housework and Men and Women's Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 860, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Cited by:
  1. Boschini, Anne & Håkanson, Christina & Rosén, Åsa & Sjögren, Anna, 2011. "Trading off or having it all? Completed fertility and mid-career earnings of Swedish men and women," Working Paper Series 2011:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

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