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Public Sector Employment, Wage Inequality and the Gender Pay Ratio in the UK

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  • Damian Grimshaw

Abstract

This paper assesses the relative contributions of the different systems of pay determination in the private sector and the public sector toward the changing level of wage inequality and the gender pay ratio in the UK. The greater centralisation of pay arrangements in the public sector compared with the private sector in the UK suggests that public sector employment may have acted to offset the widening wage inequality seen in recent years, as well as making an important contribution to the increase in women's relative average earnings compared to men. This issue is addressed by drawing on unpublished occupational hourly earnings data from the New Earnings Survey and applying decomposition of the Theil index of wage inequality to analyse both static and dynamic trends. The change in wage inequality for the period 1986 to 1995 primarily reflected the change in wage dispersion within the private sector, and the narrowing of the gender pay gap among the public sector workforce was an important factor in explaining the overall improvement in women's relative earnings. The paper argues that the relatively centralised pay arrangements in the public sector, compared with the private sector, played an important role in slowing the increase in wage inequality and narrowing the gender pay gap. As such, future policies to decentralise pay determination in the UK public sector may exacerbate the increasing level of wage inequality and reverse women's recent relative pay improvements.

Suggested Citation

  • Damian Grimshaw, 2000. "Public Sector Employment, Wage Inequality and the Gender Pay Ratio in the UK," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 427-448.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:14:y:2000:i:4:p:427-448 DOI: 10.1080/02692170050150110
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    Cited by:

    1. Hadas Mandel & Moshe Semyonov, 2014. "Gender Pay Gap and Employment Sector: Sources of Earnings Disparities in the United States, 1970–2010," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(5), pages 1597-1618, October.
    2. Fournier, Jean-Marc & Koske, Isabell, 2013. "Public employment and earnings inequality: An analysis based on conditional and unconditional quantile regressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 263-266.
    3. Jean-Marc Fournier & Isabell Koske, 2012. "Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are they Compatible? Part 7. The Drivers of Labour Earnings Inequality – An Analysis Based on Conditional and Unconditional Quantile Regressions," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 930, OECD Publishing.
    4. Clive Belfield, 2005. "Workforce gender effects on firm performance and workers' pay: evidence for the UK," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(8), pages 885-891.
    5. Mc Quaid, Ronald & Bergmann, Ariel, 2008. "Employer recruitment preferences and discrimination: a stated preference experiment," MPRA Paper 30801, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Castagnetti, Carolina & Rosti, Luisa & Töpfer, Marina, 2017. "The convergence of the gender pay gap: An alternative estimation approach," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 14-2017, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    7. Rafal Kierzenkowski & Isabell Koske, 2012. "Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are they Compatible? Part 8. The Drivers of Labour Income Inequality – A Literature Review," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 931, OECD Publishing.

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