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Rhetoric in Economic Research: The Case of Gender Wage Differentials

  • Weichselbaumer, Doris

    (Department of Economics, University of Linz)

  • Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf

    (Department of Economics and Finance, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna)

Scientific rhetoric can have a profound impact on the perception of research; it can also drive and direct further research efforts. What determines whether results are discussed in a neutral or a judgmental way? How convincing must results be so that authors call for significant policy changes? These questions are difficult to answer, because rhetoric on the one hand, and content and methodology of research on the other hand, cannot be separated easily. We use a unique example to examine this question empirically: the analysis of gender wage differentials. The Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition represents a standard research method that compares male and female earnings, holding productivity constant. We analyze the wording in these studies and their prevalence to ask for policy intervention. Furthermore, we examine whether the rhetoric used reveals an author's prejudice on the topic which may also be reflected in data selection and thereby his or her findings.

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File URL: http://www.ihs.ac.at/publications/eco/es-144.pdf
File Function: First version, 2003
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Paper provided by Institute for Advanced Studies in its series Economics Series with number 144.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ihs:ihsesp:144
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  1. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
  2. Weichselbaumer, Doris & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2003. "A Meta-Analysis of the International Gender Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 906, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. David Neumark, 1988. "Employers' Discriminatory Behavior and the Estimation of Wage Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 279-295.
  6. T.D. Stanley & Stephen B. Jarrell, 1998. "Gender Wage Discrimination Bias? A Meta-Regression Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 947-973.
  7. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  8. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1983. "Labor Market Discrimination against Hispanic and Black Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 570-79, November.
  9. Peter M. Demarzo & Dimitri Vayanos & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 2003. "Persuasion Bias, Social Influence, And Unidimensional Opinions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 909-968, August.
  10. Jacques Silber & Michal Weber, 1999. "Labour market discrimination: are there significant differences between the various decomposition procedures?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 359-365.
  11. Randall S. Brown & Marilyn Moon & Barbara S. Zoloth, 1980. "Incorporating Occupational Attainment in Studies of Male-Female Earnings Differentials," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(1), pages 3-28.
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