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Wage formation and gender wage gaps: is there a role for job-task evaluation schemes?


  • Rita Asplund
  • Reija Lilja


Purpose - – Both academia and policymakers express a strong belief in higher average education levels exerting a narrowing impact on wage inequality in general and gender wage gaps in particular. The purpose of this paper is to scrutinize whether or not this effect extends to R&D- and export-intensive branches such as the technology industry. Design/methodology/approach - – In exploring the impact of individual and job-related background factors and, especially, of job-task evaluation schemes on the size and change in gender wage gaps in the technology industry, the paper applies an elaborated decomposition method based on unconditional quantile regression techniques. Findings - – While changes in standard human capital endowments can explain little, if anything, of the growth in real wages or the widening of wage dispersion among the Finnish technology industry's white-collar workers, a new job-task evaluation scheme introduced in 2002 seems to have succeeded, at least in part, to make the wage-setting process more transparent by re-allocating especially the technology industry's female white-collar workers in a way that better reflects their skills, efforts and responsibilities. Practical implications - – One crucial implication of this finding is that improving the standard human capital of women closer to that of men will not suffice to narrow the gender wage gap in the advanced parts of the economy and, hence, not also the overall gender wage gap. The reason is obvious: concomitant with rising average education levels, other skill aspects have received increasing attention in working life. Consequently, a conscious combination of formal and informal competencies as laid down in well-designed job-task evaluation schemes may, in many instances, offer a more powerful path for tackling the gender wage gap. Originality/value - – While the existing evidence on the impact of performance-related pay on gender wage gaps is still scarce but growing the authors know of no empirical studies analyzing the gender pay-gap effect of job-task evaluation systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Rita Asplund & Reija Lilja, 2014. "Wage formation and gender wage gaps: is there a role for job-task evaluation schemes?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(3), pages 267-290, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:35:y:2014:i:3:p:267-290

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