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The Feminization of Occupations and Change in Wages: A Panel Analysis of Britain, Germany and Switzerland

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  • Emily Murphy
  • Daniel Oesch

Abstract

In the last four decades, women have made major inroads into occupations previously dominated by men. This paper examines whether occupational feminization is accompanied by a decline in wages: Do workers suffer a wage penalty if they remain in, or move into, feminizing occupations? We analzye this question over the 1990s and 2000s in Britain, Germany and Switzerland, using longitudinal panel data to estimate individual fixed effects for men and women. Moving from an entirely male to an entirely female occupation entails a loss in individual earnings of twelve percent in Britain, six percent in Switzerland and three percent in Germany. The impact of occupational feminization on wages is not linear, but sets apart occupations holding less than 50 percent of women from those with more than 60 percent of women. Only moving into the latter incurs a wage penalty. Contrary to the prevailing idea in economics, differences in productivity – human capital, job-specific skill requirements and time investment – do not fully explain the wage gap between male and female occupations. Moreover, the wage penalty associated with working in a female occupation is much larger where employer discretion is large -the private sector – than where wage setting is guided by formal rules – the public sector. These findings suggests that wage disparities across male and female occupations are due to gender devaluation.

Suggested Citation

  • Emily Murphy & Daniel Oesch, 2015. "The Feminization of Occupations and Change in Wages: A Panel Analysis of Britain, Germany and Switzerland," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 731, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp731
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.496834.de/diw_sp0731.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Francisco Perales, 2013. "Occupational sex-segregation, specialized human capital and wages: evidence from Britain," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 27(4), pages 600-620, August.
    2. Javier G. Polavieja, 2010. "Socially-embedded investments: Explaining gender differences in job-specific skills," Working Papers 2010-12, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
    3. 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 426-471, July.
    4. 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.
    5. Oesch, Daniel, 2013. "Occupational Change in Europe: How Technology and Education Transform the Job Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199680962.
    6. 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," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
    7. Mark L Bryan & Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2011. "Does housework lower wages? Evidence for Britain," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(1), pages 187-210, January.
    8. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
    9. 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.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Wages as social constructs
      by chris in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2015-03-05 19:55:15

    More about this item

    Keywords

    occupations; gender; wages; discrimination; sex-segregation;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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