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The unequal distribution of unequal pay - An empirical analysis of the gender wage gap in Switzerland


  • Dorothe Bonjour

    () (Policy Studies Institute, 100 Park Village East, London NW1 3SR, UK Volkswirtschaftliches Institut, Universität Bern, Gesellschaftsstrasse 49, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland)

  • Michael Gerfin

    () (Policy Studies Institute, 100 Park Village East, London NW1 3SR, UK Volkswirtschaftliches Institut, Universität Bern, Gesellschaftsstrasse 49, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland)


In this paper we analyze the distribution of the gender wage gap. Using microdata for Switzerland we estimate conditional wage distribution functions and find that the total wage gap and its discrimination component are not constant over the range of wages. At low wages an overproportional part of the wage gap is due to discrimination. In a further analysis of specific individuals we examine the wage gap at different quantiles and propose a new measure to assess equal earnings opportunities. These additional results reveal that it is primarily low education that causes the large discrimination component at low wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorothe Bonjour & Michael Gerfin, 2001. "The unequal distribution of unequal pay - An empirical analysis of the gender wage gap in Switzerland," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 407-427.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:26:y:2001:i:2:p:407-427 Note: received: April 1999/Final version accepted: July 2000

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Picchio, Matteo & Mussida, Chiara, 2011. "Gender wage gap: A semi-parametric approach with sample selection correction," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 564-578, October.
    2. O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive & Van de gaer, Dirk, 2006. "The impact of cognitive skills on the distribution of the black-white wage gap," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 343-356, June.
    3. Chiara Mussida & Matteo Picchio, 2014. "The gender wage gap by education in Italy," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(1), pages 117-147, March.
    4. Christophe J. Nordman & François-Charles Wolff, 2009. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Morocco? Evidence from Matched Worker--Firm Data," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 18(4), pages 592-633, August.
    5. Albrecht, James & van Vuuren, Aico & Vroman, Susan, 2004. "Decomposing the Gender Wage Gap in the Netherlands with Sample Selection Adjustments," IZA Discussion Papers 1400, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman & Dirk van de Gaer, 2000. "Estimating Counterfactual Densities: An application to Black-White Wage Differentials in the U.S," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1040600, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
    7. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4344 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Dusan Paredes, 2012. "The impact of the occupations and economic activities on the gender wage gap using a counterfactual framework," Documentos de Trabajo en Economia y Ciencia Regional 22, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2012.
    9. Albrecht, James & van Vuuren, Aico & Vroman, Susan, 2009. "Counterfactual distributions with sample selection adjustments: Econometric theory and an application to the Netherlands," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 383-396, August.
    10. Böheim, René & Himpele, Klemens & Mahringer, Helmut & Zulehner, Christine, 2013. "The distribution of the gender wage gap in Austria : evidence from matched employer-employee data and tax records," Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 46(1), pages 19-34.
    11. Chiara Mussida, 2015. "L’impatto dell’istruzione sui salari per genere in Italia / Appendice Statistica," ECONOMIA E SOCIETÀ REGIONALE, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(2), pages 94-113.
    12. Doorley, Karina & Sierminska, Eva, 2012. "Myth or Fact? The Beauty Premium across the Wage Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 6674, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Olaf Hübler & Lukas Menkhoff, 2011. "Do Women Manage Smaller Funds?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 58(1), pages 107-126, February.
    14. repec:iab:iabjlr:v:46:i:1:p:19-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Thomas Bolli & Mathias Zurlinden, 2009. "Measuring Growth of Labor Quality and the Quality-Adjusted Unemployment Rate in Switzerland," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 55(2), pages 121-145.
    16. Jean-Louis Arcand & Béatrice D'hombres, 2004. "Racial discrimination in the Brazilian labour market: wage, employment and segregation effects," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(8), pages 1053-1066.
    17. Dragana Djurdjevic & Sergiy Radyakin, 2007. "Decomposition of the Gender Wage Gap Using Matching: An Application for Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 143(IV), pages 365-396, December.
    18. Astrid Kunze, 2008. "Gender wage gap studies: consistency and decomposition," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 63-76, August.
    19. Rafael Lalive & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Approval of equal rights and gender differences in well-being," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(3), pages 933-962, June.
    20. Coral Río & Carlos Gradín & Olga Cantó, 2011. "The measurement of gender wage discrimination: the distributional approach revisited," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(1), pages 57-86, March.
    21. Millimet Daniel L & Wang Le, 2006. "A Distributional Analysis of the Gender Earnings Gap in Urban China," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, February.
    22. DOORLEY Karina & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2011. "Beauty and the beast in the labor market: Evidence from a distribution regression approach," LISER Working Paper Series 2011-62, LISER.
    23. Heinze, Anja, 2010. "Beyond the mean gender wage gap: Decomposition of differences in wage distributions using quantile regression," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-043, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    24. Michael Siegenthaler & Tobias Stucki, 2014. "Dividing the Pie: The Determinants of Labor's Share of Income on the Firm Level," KOF Working papers 14-352, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

    More about this item


    Gender wage gap · wage structure · wage distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


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