Job Assignment and the Gender Wage Differential: Theory and Evidence on Finnish Metalworkers
We study the determinants of the gender wage differential by using a data set on Finnish blue-collar metalworkers. The assignment of men and women into jobs of different complexity is a key factor that widens the final wage differential. Using the theory of optimal job assignment, we propose a model of individual productivity, ability and job complexity and formulate a hypothesis of asymmetric assignment according to which men and women of equal ability are allocated to different job levels. Using econometric panel data techniques, we find support for this hypothesis. The results are consistent with the Lazear-Rosen model of job ladders but can alternatively be interpreted as evidence for gender discrimination in job assignment.
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