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The US Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence

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  • Francine D. Blau

    (Cornell University, NB ER, IZA and CESifo)

  • Lawrence M. Kahn

    (Cornell University, IZA and CESifo)

Abstract

Using Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) data, we study the slowdown in the convergence of female and male wages in the 1990s compared to the 1980s. We find that changes in human capital did not contribute to the slowdown, since women's relative human capital improved comparably in the two decades. Occupational upgrading and deunionization had a larger positive effect on women's relative wages in the 1980s, explaining a portion of the slower 1990s convergence. However, the largest factor was that the unexplained gender wage gap fell much faster in the 1980s than the 1990s. Our evidence suggests that changes in labor force selectivity, changes in gender differences in unmeasured characteristics and in labor market discrimination, as well as changes in the favorableness of demand shifts each may have contributed to the slowing convergence of the unexplained gender pay gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The US Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence," Working Papers 887, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:508
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    Keywords

    PSID; Panel Study of Income Dynamics;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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