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Gender wage gap in West Germany: how far do gender differences in human capital matter?

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  • Lauer, Charlotte
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    Abstract

    This paper analyses the extent to which gender differences in human capital contribute to explaining the observable wage differential in favour of men and its reduction since the mid-eighties among West German full-time employees in the private sector. Based on a simple analytical framework, the analysis shows that if a large part of the gender wage gap can be attributed to women?s relative deficit with respect to human capital endowment, an equally large part stems from the fact that female human capital is less valued in terms of wages. The gender wage gap narrowing stems mainly from a reduction in gender inequality with respect to the returns to human capital in terms of wage which favours women. Nevertheless, women improved their relative position regarding human capital endowment, but the overall lower valuation of human capital by the labour market reduces the benefit of this relative improvement. The roles of the educational attainment, labour market experience and occupational factors were analysed specifically. The level of educational attainment explains a large part of the gender wage gap, mainly because women have a lower educational attainment than men but also because similar qualification levels yield lower returns for women. Taken alone, the developments related to education would have increased the gender wage gap significantly. This is because, if women did catch up in terms of educational attainment, the effect of this educational expansion was more than compensated by the fact that the returns to education dropped particularly markedly for women. Changes related to labour market experience have a neutral influence on the gender wage gap. Women improved their relative position concerning their work experience, but lose their advantage in the returns to work experience. Part of the gender wage gap is attributable to occupational segregation, i.e. female crowding into lower paid occupations. The extent of occupational segregation has remained fairly stable, but the wage penalty for working in typically female jobs has increased over time. --

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 00-07.

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    Date of creation: 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5283

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    1. Lauer, Charlotte & Steiner, Viktor, 2000. "Returns to education in West Germany: an empirical assessment," ZEW Discussion Papers 00-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    3. Knut Gerlach, 1987. "A Note on Male-Female Wage Differences in West Germany," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(4), pages 584-592.
    4. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
    5. David Neumark, 1988. "Employers' Discriminatory Behavior and the Estimation of Wage Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 279-295.
    6. Randall S. Brown & Marilyn Moon & Barbara S. Zoloth, 1980. "Incorporating Occupational Attainment in Studies of Male-Female Earnings Differentials," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(1), pages 3-28.
    7. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "Wage Structure and Gender Earnings Differentials: An International Comparison," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages S29-62, Suppl..
    8. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
    9. Cotton, Jeremiah, 1988. "On the Decomposition of Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 236-43, May.
    10. Puhani, Patrick A, 2000. " The Heckman Correction for Sample Selection and Its Critique," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 53-68, February.
    11. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
    12. Franz, Wolfgang & Steiner, Viktor, 1999. "Wages in the East German transition process: facts and explanations," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-40, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    13. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1997. "Swimming Upstream: Trends in the Gender Wage Differential in 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 1-42, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Menshawy Badr & Oliver Morrissey & Simon Appleton, . "Gender differentials in maths test scores in Mena countries," Discussion Papers 12/04, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    2. Antonczyk, Dirk & Fitzenberger, Bernd & Sommerfeld, Katrin, 2010. "Rising wage inequality, the decline of collective bargaining, and the gender wage gap," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-014, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Ammermüller, Andreas, 2004. "PISA: What Makes the Difference? Explaining the Gap in PISA Test Scores Between Finland and Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Bernd Fitzenberger & Gaby Wunderlich, 2002. "Gender Wage Differences in West Germany: A Cohort Analysis," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(4), pages 379-414, November.
    5. Lauk, Martina & Meyer, Susanne, 2005. "Women, Men and Housework Time Allocation: Theory and Empirical Results," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 37209, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL).
    6. repec:iab:iabmit:v:36:i:4:p:560-572 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andreas Ammermüller, 2004. "PISA : what makes the difference?," Working Papers of the Research Group Heterogenous Labor 04-07, Research Group Heterogeneous Labor, University of Konstanz/ZEW Mannheim.
    8. Lauk, Martina & Meyer, Susanne, 2003. "Familiale Arbeitsteilung: Determinanten in Theorie und Empirie," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 37294, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL).
    9. Beblo, Miriam & Wolf, Elke, 2003. "Sind es die Erwerbsunterbrechungen? : ein Erklärungsbeitrag zum Lohnunterschied zwischen Frauen und Männern in Deutschland (Is it the employment interruptions? * a contribution to explaining the wag," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 36(4), pages 560-572.
    10. Usamah Fayez Al-Farhan, 2010. "Changes in the Gender Wage Gap in Germany during a Period of Rising Wage Inequality 1999-2006: Was it Discrimination in the Returns to Human Capital?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 293, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    11. Ammermüller, Andreas, 2005. "Poor Background or Low Returns? Why Immigrant Students in Germany Perform so Poorly in PISA," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-18, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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