IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps

  • Olivetti, Claudia


    (Boston University)

  • Petrongolo, Barbara


    (Queen Mary, University of London)

Gender wage and employment gaps are negatively correlated across countries. We argue that non-random selection of women into work explains an important part of such correlation and thus of the observed variation in wage gaps. The idea is that, if women who are employed tend to have relatively high-wage characteristics, low female employment rates may become consistent with low gender wage gaps simply because low-wage women would not feature in the observed wage distribution. We explore this idea across the US and EU by estimating gender gaps in potential wages. We recover information on wages for those not in work in a given year using alternative imputation techniques. Imputation is based on (i) wage observations from other waves in the sample, (ii) observable characteristics of the nonemployed and (iii) a statistical repeated-sampling model. We then estimate median wage gaps on the resulting imputed wage distributions, thus simply requiring assumptions on the position of the imputed wage observations with respect to the median, but not on their level. We obtain higher median wage gaps on imputed rather than actual wage distributions for most countries in the sample. However, this difference is small in the US, the UK and most central and northern EU countries, and becomes sizeable in Ireland, France and southern EU, all countries in which gender employment gaps are high. In particular, correction for employment selection explains more than a half of the observed correlation between wage and employment gaps.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1941.

in new window

Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Labor Economics, 2008, 26 (4), 621 - 654
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1941
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 11268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Manski, C.F., 1990. "The Selection Problem," Working papers 90-12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. de la Rica, Sara & Dolado, Juan J. & Llorens, Vanesa, 2005. "Ceiling and Floors: Gender Wage Gaps by Education in Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 1483, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Derek Neal, 2002. "The Measured Black-White Wage Gap Among Women is Too Small," NBER Working Papers 9133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Albrecht, James & van Vuuren, Aico & Vroman, Susan, 2004. "Decomposing the Gender Wage Gap in the Netherlands with Sample Selection Adjustments," IZA Discussion Papers 1400, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
  8. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  9. Charles F. Manski, 1989. "Anatomy of the Selection Problem," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 343-360.
  10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:1:p:79-121 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Blundell, Richard William & Gosling, Amanda & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Meghir, Costas, 2004. "Changes in the Distribution of Male and Female Wages Accounting for Employment Composition Using Bounds," CEPR Discussion Papers 4705, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Smith, James P & Ward, Michael, 1989. "Women in the Labor Market and in the Family," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 9-23, Winter.
  13. Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  14. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2001. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," NBER Working Papers 8200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Heinze, Anja & Beninger, Denis & Beblo, Miriam & Laisney, François, 2003. "Measuring Selectivity-Corrected Gender Wage Gaps in the EU," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-74, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  16. Chinhui Juhn, 2003. "Labor market dropouts and trends in the wages of black and white men," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 643-662, July.
  17. Gronau, Reuben, 1974. "Wage Comparisons-A Selectivity Bias," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1119-43, Nov.-Dec..
  18. Ghazala Azmat & Maia Güell & Alan Manning, 2004. "Gender Gaps in Unemployment Rates in OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0607, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  19. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
  20. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  21. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1, December.
  23. Blau Francine D & Kahn Lawrence M, 2007. "The Gender Pay Gap," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 4(4), pages 1-6, June.
  24. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "Wage Structure and Gender Earnings Differentials: An International Comparison," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages S29-62, Suppl..
  25. Francis Vella, 1998. "Estimating Models with Sample Selection Bias: A Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 127-169.
  26. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2004. "The Closing of the Gender Gap as a Roy Model Illusion," NBER Working Papers 10892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. O'Neill, June, 1985. "The Trend in the Male-Female Wage Gap in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S91-116, January.
  28. Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "The dynamics of changes in the female wage distribution in the USA: a quantile regression approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 1-30.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1941. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.