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Women's Wages in Women's Work: A US/Canada Comparison of the Roles of Unions and Public Goods Sector Jobs

  • Michael Baker
  • Nicole M. Fortin

In this paper, we investigate the mechanism by which the femaleness of occupations has a negative effect on women's wages. We relate US/Canada differences in labor market institutions, the returns to skills and other dimensions of the wage structure, such as occupational rents, to corresponding differences in the rewards to female jobs. Our analysis, which uses US data from the CPS-ORG for 1988 and Canadian data from the 1988 LMAS, uncovers intriguing US/Canada differences in the effect of occupational gender composition on women's wages. The estimated effect for Canadian women is generally small and not statistically significant, while estimates for American women are relatively large and comparable to the evidence in previous studies. Relating these differences to cross-country variation in other wage determinants reveals that higher rates of unionization, and the higher occupation wage effects for certain public good sector jobs such as educational services, work to the advantage of Canadian women. We also find that the relatively higher pay of integrated jobs in the United States helps account for the larger negative effect of gender composition on women's wages in this country. Dans cet article, nous étudions le mécanisme par lequel le taux de féminité des occupations peut avoir un effect négatif sur les salaires des femmes. Nous utilisons une comparaison internationale États-Unis/Canada pour relier les différences institutionnelles du marché du travail, les différences dans les rendements des qualifications et dans d'autres dimensions de la structure salariale, comme les rentes occupationnelles, à des différences dans la rémunération des emplois à prédominance féminine. Notre analyse, qui utilise les données américaines provenant des CPS-ORG pour 1988 et les données canadiennes provenant de l'enquête sur l'activité aussi pour 1988, démontre l'existence de différences intéressantes entre les États-Unis et le Canada quant à l'effet du taux de féminité des occupations sur les salaires des femmes. L'effet estimé pour les canadiennes, dans leur ensemble, est généralement petit et n'est pas statistiquement significatif, alors que l'effet estimé pour les américaines est relativement important et comparable aux résultats des études antérieures. Lorsque nous relions ces différences internationales aux autres déterminants de la structure salariale, nous trouvons que les taux de syndication relativement élevés, et les effets fixes relativement élevés des occupations procurant des biens publics sont à l'avantage des canadiennes. Nous trouvons aussi que les salaires relativement plus élevés des occupations intégrées aux États-Unis contribuent à l'effet négatif du taux de féminité des occupations sur les salaires des femmes dans ce pays.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 99s-02.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:99s-02
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  1. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-71, July.
  2. John DiNardo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1995. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 5093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Michael Baker & Nicole M. Fortin, 1998. "Gender Composition and Wages: Why is Canada different from the United States?," Working Papers baker-98-02, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  5. Jane Waldfogel, 1998. "Understanding the "Family Gap" in Pay for Women with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 137-156, Winter.
  6. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
  7. Helwege, Jean, 1992. "Sectoral Shifts and Interindustry Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 55-84, January.
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