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Unequal Pay or Unequal employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps

  • Claudia Olivetti
  • Barbara Petrongolo

There is evidence of a negative cross-country correlation between gender wage and employment gaps. We argue that non-random selection of women into work explains an important part of such correlation and thus of the observed variation in wage gaps. The idea is that, if women who are employed tend to have relatively high-wage characteristics, low female employment rates may become consistent with low gender wage gaps simply because low-wage women would not feature in the observed wage distribution. We explore this idea across the US and EU countries estimating gender gaps in potential wages. We recover information on wages for those not in work in a given year using alternative imputation techniques. Imputation is based on (i) wage observations from nearest available waves in the sample, (ii) observable characteristics of the nonemployed and (iii) a statistical repeated-sampling model. We then estimate median wage gaps on the resulting imputed wage distributions, thus simply requiring assumptions on the position of the imputed wage observations with respect to the median, but not on their level. We obtain higher median wage gaps on imputed rather than actual wage distributions for most countries in the sample. However, this difference is small in the US, the UK and most central and northern EU countries, and becomes sizeable in Ireland, France and southern EU, all countries in which gender employment gaps are high. In particular, correction for employment selection explains more than a half of the observed correlation between wage and employment gaps.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0711.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0711
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  5. Heinze, Anja & Beninger, Denis & Beblo, Miriam & Laisney, François, 2003. "Measuring Selectivity-Corrected Gender Wage Gaps in the EU," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-74, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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  10. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2007. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wage Distribution," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
  11. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2004. "The Closing of the Gender Gap as a Roy Model Illusion," NBER Working Papers 10892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Blundell, Richard William & Gosling, Amanda & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Meghir, Costas, 2004. "Changes in the Distribution of Male and Female Wages Accounting for Employment Composition Using Bounds," CEPR Discussion Papers 4705, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. James Albrecht & Aico van Vuuren & Susan Vroman, 2004. "Decomposing the Gender Wage Gap in the Netherlands with Sample Selection Adjustments," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-123/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  18. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  19. Francis Vella, 1998. "Estimating Models with Sample Selection Bias: A Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 127-169.
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  22. Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "The dynamics of changes in the female wage distribution in the USA: a quantile regression approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 1-30.
  23. O'Neill, June, 1985. "The Trend in the Male-Female Wage Gap in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S91-116, January.
  24. Chinhui Juhn, 2003. "Labor market dropouts and trends in the wages of black and white men," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 643-662, July.
  25. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
  26. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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