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Gender wage gaps, ‘sticky floors’ and ‘glass ceilings’ in Europe

  • Christofides, Louis N.
  • Polycarpou, Alexandros
  • Vrachimis, Konstantinos

We consider and attempt to understand the gender wage gap across 26 European countries, using 2007 data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions.44European Commission, Eurostat, cross-sectional EU-SILC UDB 2007 — version 1 of March 2009. Eurostat has no responsibility for the results and conclusions of this paper.The size of the gender wage gap varies considerably across countries, definitions of the gap, and selection–correction mechanisms. Most of the gap cannot be explained by the characteristics available in this data set. Quantile regressions show that, in a number of countries, the wage gap is wider at the top (‘glass ceilings’) and/or at the bottom of the wage distribution (‘sticky floors’). We find larger mean/median gender gaps and more evidence of glass ceilings for full-time full-year employees, suggesting more female disadvantage in ‘better’ jobs. These features may be related to country-specific policies that cannot be evaluated at the individual-country level, at a point in time. We use the cross-country variation in the unexplained wage gaps of this larger-than-usual sample of states to explore the influence of (i) country policies that reconcile work and family life and (ii) their wage-setting institutions. We find that country policies and institutions are related to features of their unexplained gender wage gaps in systematic, quantitatively important, ways.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 21 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 86-102

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Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:21:y:2013:i:c:p:86-102
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