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The Determination of Wages and the Gender Wage Gap: A Survey


  • Kunze, Astrid

    () (Norwegian School of Economics)


In this paper the extensive empirical literature on the gender wage gap is reviewed with particular attention given to the identification of the key parameters in the specified human capital wage regression models. This aspect has been of great importance in the literature chiefly for two reasons. On the one hand, the main explanatory variables in the wage model, i.e. measures of work experience and time out of work, are endogenous and, hence, applying traditional estimators may lead to inconsistent parameter estimates. On the other hand, empirical evidence on the gender wage gap hinges on the estimates of the main parameters of interest and its economic meaningfulness may be limited by restrictive assumptions imputed on the wage model. The survey shows that econometric methods are still more advanced than their applications, and that in applications consistency often is only achieved at the expense of restrictive assumptions that are dubious from an economic perspective. In short, it seems that current measures of male-female wage differentials are likely to be biased because of the failure to appropriately account for endogeneity and selectivity in the wage regression models.

Suggested Citation

  • Kunze, Astrid, 2000. "The Determination of Wages and the Gender Wage Gap: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 193, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp193

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence Kahn, 1995. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Some International Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 105-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Gunderson, Morley, 1989. "Male-Female Wage Differentials and Policy Responses," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 46-72, March.
    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. Peter Dolton & Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman, 1996. "Gender Differences in the Changing Labor Market: The Role of Legislation and Inequality in Changing the Wage Gap for Qualified Workers in the United Kingdom," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(3), pages 549-565.
    7. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    8. Greenhalgh, Christine A, 1980. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Great Britain: Is Marriage an Equal Opportunity?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 751-775, December.
    9. Suen, Wing, 1997. "Decomposing Wage Residuals: Unmeasured Skill or Statistical Artifact?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 555-566, July.
    10. Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
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    More about this item


    wage discrimination; human capital wage regression model; model construction and estimation; Male-female wage differentials;

    JEL classification:

    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation


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