IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cep/cepdps/dp1053.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Gender, Productivity and the Nature of Work and Pay: Evidence from the Late Nineteenth-Century Tobacco Industry

Author

Listed:
  • Björn Eriksson
  • Tobias Karlsson
  • Tim Leunig
  • Maria Stanfors

Abstract

Women have, on average, been less well-paid than men throughout history. Prior to 1900, most economic historians see the gender wage gap as a reflection of men's greater strength and correspondingly higher productivity. This paper investigates the gender wage gap in cigar making around 1900. Strength was rarely an issue, but the gender wage gap was large. Two findings suggest that employers were not sexist. First, differences in earnings by gender for workers paid piece rates can be fully explained by differences in experience and other productivity-related characteristics. Second, conditioning on those characteristics, women were just as likely to be promoted to the better paying piece rate section. Neither finding is compatible with a simple model of sex-based discrimination. Instead, the gender wage gap can be decomposed into two components. First, women were typically less experienced, in an industry in which experience mattered. Second there were some jobs that required strength, for which men were better suited. Because strength was so valuable in the other jobs at this time, men commanded a wage premium in the general labour market, raising their reservation wage. Hiring a man required the firm to pay a 'man's wage'. This implies that firms that were slow to feminise their time rate workforce ended up with a higher cost structure than those that made the transition more quickly. We show that firms with a higher proportion of women in their workforce in 1863 were indeed more likely to survive 35 years later.

Suggested Citation

  • Björn Eriksson & Tobias Karlsson & Tim Leunig & Maria Stanfors, 2011. "Gender, Productivity and the Nature of Work and Pay: Evidence from the Late Nineteenth-Century Tobacco Industry," CEP Discussion Papers dp1053, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1053
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1053.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Humphries, Jane, 1987. "“…The Most Free From Objection …” The Sexual Division of Labor and Women's Work in Nineteenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 929-949, December.
    2. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
    3. Burnette,Joyce, 2008. "Gender, Work and Wages in Industrial Revolution Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521880633.
    4. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polachek, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters,in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 76-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    6. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, April.
    7. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
    8. Edith Abbott, 1907. "Employment of Women in Industries: Cigar-Making: Its History and Present Tendencies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15, pages 1-1.
    9. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    10. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 33-58, January.
    11. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    12. Hannah, Leslie, 2006. "The Whig Fable of American Tobacco, 1895 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(01), pages 42-73, March.
    13. Orley Ashenfelter & Timothy Hannan, 1986. "Sex Discrimination and Product Market Competition: The Case of the Banking Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 149-173.
    14. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    15. Barbara R. Bergmann, 1974. "Occupational Segregation, Wages and Profits When Employers Discriminate by Race or Sex," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 103-110, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Burnette, Joyce & Stanfors, Stanfors, 2018. "Understanding the gender gap among turn-of-the-century Swedish compositors," Working Paper Series 2018:1, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Björn Eriksson & Maria Stanfors, 2015. "A winning strategy? The employment of women and firm longevity during industrialisation," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(7), pages 988-1004, October.
    3. Karlsson, Tobias & Stanfors, Maria, 2016. "To be or not to be? Risk attitudes and gender differences in union membership," Lund Papers in Economic History 144, Lund University, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; productivity; discrimination; piece-rates; time-rates; labour markets; firm survival;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1053. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.