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Understanding the Gender Pay Gap: What's Competition Got to Do with It?

  • Alan Manning
  • Farzad Saidi

A number of researchers have argued that men and women have different attitudes toward and behavioral responses to competition; that is, women are more likely to opt out of jobs in which performance pay is the norm. Laboratory experiments suggest that these gender differences are rather large. To check these hypotheses and findings against differences in the field, the authors use performance pay as an indicator of competition in the workplace and compare the gender gap not only in incidence of performance pay but also in earnings and work effort under these contracts. They find that although women are less likely than men to work under performance pay contracts, the gender gap is small. Furthermore, the effect of performance pay on earnings is modest and does not differ markedly by gender. Consequently, the authors argue, the ability of these competition hypotheses to explain the gender pay gap seems very limited.

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 63 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 681-698

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:63:y:2010:i:4:p:681-698
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  6. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin, 2010. "Performance Pay and Multi-dimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
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  17. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00180022, HAL.
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