Does the Glass Ceiling Exist?: A Cross-National Perspective on Gender Income Mobility
We compare male and female upward labor income mobility in Germany and the United States using the GSOEP-PSID Cross-National Equivalent File. Our main interest is to test whether a glass ceiling exists for women. Conventional thinking about the glass ceiling highlights the belief that the playing field is level for women and men in the labor market up to a certain point, after which there is an effective limit on advancement for women. We examine the glass ceiling hypothesis by looking at the income dynamics -- the movement of women and men through the distribution of income over time. We find that there is considerable evidence in favor of a glass ceiling both in Germany and the United States with men having approximately a 30% premium in their upward income mobility compared to women in the upper income classes. We also find significant, but smaller, differences at middle and low income levels for both countries.
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