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Comparable Worth and Pay Equity: Recent Developments in the United States


  • Mark R. Killingsworth


This paper surveys the US experience with comparable worth and pay equity (CWPE). After reviewing the institutional setting (with special reference to anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action programs) into which CWPE was introduced, I note that CWPE has met with only minimal success at the federal level and has fostered some modest pay adjustments for government employees in some states. Employers have usually opposed or sought to limit CWPE pay adjustments; unions have sometimes been sceptical of CWPE as antithetical to collective bargaining; and in recent years even some proponents have become less positive in assessing CWPE.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark R. Killingsworth, 2002. "Comparable Worth and Pay Equity: Recent Developments in the United States," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 171-186, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:28:y:2002:i:s1:p:171-186

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Orazem, Peter F & Mattila, J Peter, 1990. "The Implementation Process of Comparable Worth: Winners and Losers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 134-152, February.
    2. Mattila, J. Peter & Orazem, Peter, 1989. "Comparable Worth and the Structure of Earnings: The Iowa Case," Staff General Research Papers Archive 10846, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    3. Ashenfelter, Orley & Oaxaca, Ronald, 1987. "The Economics of Discrimination: Economists Enter the Courtroom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 321-325, May.
    4. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1989. "Women and Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 61-75, Winter.
    5. Andrea H. Beller, 1982. "Occupational Segregation by Sex: Determinants and Changes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 371-392.
    6. Mark R. Killingsworth, 1990. "The Economics of Comparable Worth," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number ecw, November.
    7. O'Neill, June & Brien, Michael & Cunningham, James, 1989. "Effects of Comparable Worth Policy: Evidence from Washington State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 305-309, May.
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