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The Changing Distribution of Male and Female Wages, 1978-2000: Can the Simple Skills Story be Rejected?

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  • Gosling, Amanda

Abstract

This Paper attempts to reconcile two apparently contradictory trends in the UK labour market over the 1980s and 1990s. While wage differentials based on observed skill have risen for men, wage differentials between men and women have fallen. If women earn less than men because they are less skilled, then one would expect differences across genders to follow the same trends as differences across skills. The simplest explanation of the data is that the labour market has become more competitive, resulting in a fall in discrimination and an increase in the return to skill. As this explanation is not directly and easily testable, this Paper examines its plausibility by assessing other explanations for these results.

Suggested Citation

  • Gosling, Amanda, 2003. "The Changing Distribution of Male and Female Wages, 1978-2000: Can the Simple Skills Story be Rejected?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4045
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dickens L., 1993. "Collective bargaining and the promotion of equality : the case of the United Kingdom," ILO Working Papers 992966393402676, International Labour Organization.
    2. Manning, Alan, 1996. "The Equal Pay Act as an Experiment to Test Theories of the Labour Market," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 191-212, May.
    3. repec:ilo:ilowps:296639 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Susan Harkness, 1996. "The gender earnings gap: evidence from the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 17(2), pages 1-36, May.
    5. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-538, May.
    6. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
    7. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1998. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions, and the Gender Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 610-643.
    8. Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the U.K," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 635-666.
    9. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1994. "Rising Wage Inequality and the U.S. Gender Gap," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 23-28, May.
    10. Bell, Brian D & Pitt, Michael K, 1998. "Trade Union Decline and the Distribution of Wages in the UK: Evidence from Kernel Density Estimation," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(4), pages 509-528, November.
    11. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 791-836, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre-André Chiappori & Murat Iyigun & Yoram Weiss, 2009. "Investment in Schooling and the Marriage Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1689-1713, December.
    2. Sauré, Philip & Zoabi, Hosny, 2014. "International trade, the gender wage gap and female labor force participation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 17-33.
    3. Philip Sauré & Hosny Zoabi, 2009. "Effects of Trade on Female Labor Force Participation," Working Papers 2009-12, Swiss National Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    male-female wage differentials; wage inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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