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How do Labor Unions Influence the Gender Earnings Gap? A Comparative Study of the US and Korea


  • Donghun Cho
  • Joonmo Cho


This paper provides a comparative study of the United States and Korea regarding the effects of unions on gender earnings gaps in 2004. Using datasets representative of the population of the US and Korea, this contribution shows that gender differences in the workers' observed characteristics and the unobserved component reduce gender earnings gaps in union jobs in both the US and Korea. Fringe benefits in the union sector attract women workers with higher labor market qualifications into the union sector and thereby reduce the gender earnings gap in this sector. The study finds that this self-selection process in the union sector is stronger in Korea than in the US, but the seniority-based wage system that prevails in the Korean union sector widens the gender earnings gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Donghun Cho & Joonmo Cho, 2011. "How do Labor Unions Influence the Gender Earnings Gap? A Comparative Study of the US and Korea," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 133-157.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:17:y:2011:i:3:p:133-157 DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2011.582472

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dale-Olsen, Harald, 2006. "Wages, fringe benefits and worker turnover," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 87-105, February.
    2. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
    3. Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Evidence On The Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 15-26, February.
    4. Nguyen, Binh T. & Albrecht, James W. & Vroman, Susan B. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 2007. "A quantile regression decomposition of urban-rural inequality in Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 466-490, July.
    5. Jayachandran N. Variyam & David S. Kraybill, 1998. "Fringe Benefits Provision by Rural Small Businesses," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 360-368.
    6. Jowett, M. & Contoyannis, P. & Vinh, N. D., 2003. "The impact of public voluntary health insurance on private health expenditures in Vietnam," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 333-342, January.
    7. Rand, John & Tarp, Finn & Cuong, Tran Tien & Tam, Nguyen Thanh, 2008. "SME Fringe Benefits Provision," MPRA Paper 29469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hanna Jung & Joonmo Cho, 2016. "Quality of Jobs for Female Workers: A Comparative Study of South Korea and Australia," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(1), pages 1-22, March.
    2. Joonmo Cho & Jaeseong Lee, 2015. "Persistence of the Gender Gap and Low Employment of Female Workers in a Stratified Labor Market: Evidence from South Korea," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(9), pages 1-27, September.
    3. Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde & Irene van Staveren, 2017. "Identifying Age Penalty in Women's Wages: New Method and Evidence from Germany 1984-2014," GRAPE Working Papers 24, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    4. Cho, Joonmo & Lee, Tai & Jung, Hanna, 2014. "Glass ceiling in a stratified labor market: Evidence from Korea," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 56-70.


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