Gender Wage Differentials, Affirmative Action, and Employment Growth on the Industry Level
The present study examines factors that might explain the difference between female and male industry wage premia. It focuses on three industry characteristics in particular -- the extent to which firms in each industry were likely to be targeted for Affirmation Action compliance review or investigation, industry employment growth, and industry profitability. We find strong evidence that all three factors help narrow the gender gap in industry wage premia. Other characteristics that we have looked at, including average plant size, the capital intensity of the production process, both the average level and variance in work education, and changes in overall sales and wage levels were statistically much less important. Our principal finding is that Affirmation Action, employment growth, and profitability each leads to a narrowing of the gender gap in industry wage premia. These effects act independently of each other. With regard to the Affirmation Action variable, our results contract sharply with those of Leonard (1996), who concludes that Affirmative Action had lost its effectiveness as a measure to reduce the gender wage gap in the 1980s. The difference in results is likely attributable to the fact that the dependent variable in his regression analysis is the gender gap in earnings, whereas ours is the gender gap in industry wage premia. In terms of policy implications, our results provide new support to the recent effectiveness of the Affirmative Action program, which is currently under fire from so many sources and has been greatly diminished in size and is also clear that import-competing industries, for which output prices and sales declined during this period, showed smaller wage increases for all workers during the 1980s. This would narrow the gender gap in wage premia, if males had been more likely than females to benefit from rent sharing before the decline in demand for the industry's output, or if males at the top of the wage ladder were more likely than
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