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Rhetoric in Economic Research: The Case of Gender Wage Differentials

Scientific rhetoric can have a profound impact on the perception of research; it can a lso drive and direct further research efforts. What determines whether results are discussed in a neutral or a judgmental way? How precise and convincing must results be so that authors call for significant policy changes? These questions are in general difficult to answer, because rhetoric on the one hand, and content and methodology of the paper on the other, cannot be separated easily. We, therefore, use a unique example to examine this question empirically: the analysis of gender wage differentials. Here, the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition represents a standard research method that compares male and female earnings, holding productivity constant. We analyze close to 200 papers to investigate what drives authors to talk about "discrimination", whether and when they call for policy activism or when they are more hesitant to do so. Furthermore, we examine whether the rhetoric used really 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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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2003-12.

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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2003_12
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Doris Weichselbaumer & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2003. "A meta-analysis of the international gender wage gap," Economics working papers 2003-11, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  5. 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.
  6. Zwiebel, Jeffrey H. & Vayanos, Dimitri & DeMarzo, Peter M., 2001. "Persuasion Bias, Social Influence, and Uni-Dimensional Opinions," Research Papers 1719, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  7. 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.
  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. 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.
  10. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
  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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