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Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway

Author

Listed:
  • Marianne Bertrand
  • Sandra E. Black
  • Sissel Jensen
  • Adriana Lleras-Muney

Abstract

In late 2003, Norway passed a law mandating 40 percent representation of each gender on the board of public limited liability companies. The primary objective of this reform was to increase the representation of women in top positions in the corporate sector and decrease the gender disparity in earnings within that sector. We document that the women appointed to these boards post-reform were observably more qualified than their female predecessors along many dimensions, and that the gender gap in earnings within boards fell substantially. On the other hand, we see no robust evidence that the reform benefited the larger set of women employed in the companies subject to the quota. Moreover, the reform had no clear impact on highly qualified women whose qualifications mirror those of board members but who were not appointed to boards. Finally, we find mixed support for the view that the reform affected the decisions of young women: while the reform was not accompanied by any change in female enrollment in business education programs, we do see some improvements in labor market outcomes for young women with graduate business degrees in their early career stages; however, we observe similar improvements for young women with graduate science degrees, suggesting this may not be due to the reform. Overall, seven years after the board quota policy fully came into effect, we conclude that it had very little discernible impact on women in business beyond its direct effect on the women who made it into boardrooms.

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne Bertrand & Sandra E. Black & Sissel Jensen & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2014. "Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway," NBER Working Papers 20256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20256
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David A. Matsa & Amalia R. Miller, 2013. "A Female Style in Corporate Leadership? Evidence from Quotas," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 136-169, July.
    2. Manuel F. Bagues & Berta Esteve-Volart, 2010. "Can Gender Parity Break the Glass Ceiling? Evidence from a Repeated Randomized Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1301-1328.
    3. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, September.
    4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1999. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 471-517, April.
    5. Kenneth R. Ahern & Amy K. Dittmar, 2012. "The Changing of the Boards: The Impact on Firm Valuation of Mandated Female Board Representation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 137-197.
    6. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-255, July.
    7. repec:hrv:faseco:30747162 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)

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