The Crowding Hypothesis and Comparable Worth
Although women's pay and occupational distribution have improved during the past few years, it is still true that women earn considerably less than men and that their occupational distribution is substantially different. Because progress has been slow toward equality in the labor market, some have called for a comparable worth policy. Proponents of this approach argue that occupational segregation contributes to the earnings disparity between women and men. One theoretical justification for this position is the crowding hypothesis. This paper first explains this theory and presents a method used to test its principal hypothesis. It then describes an extension of this design for estimating the phenomenon that comparable worth policies address. Empirical studies conducted in this area are viewed and new findings are presented. Finally, limitations of this analysis are discussed.
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