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The Gender Wage Gap in Early Modern Toledo, 1550-1650


  • Drelichman, Mauricio
  • Gonzalez Agudo, David


We exploit the records of a large Toledan hospital to study the compensation of female labor and the gender wage gap in early modern Castile in the context of nursing, a non-gendered low-skill occupation in which men and women performed the same clearly defined tasks. We employ a robust methodology to valuate in-kind compensation, and show it to constitute a central part of the labor contract, far exceeding subsistence requirements. Patient admissions records are used to measure nurse productivity, which did not differ across genders. Female compensation varied between 70% and 100% of male levels, with fluctuations clearly linked to relative labor scarcity. Contrary to common assumptions in the literature, we show that female compensation in early modern Castile was set through a competitive market, and not according to custom. The sources of the gender disparity are therefore likely to be found in the broader social and cultural context.

Suggested Citation

  • Drelichman, Mauricio & Gonzalez Agudo, David, 2019. "The Gender Wage Gap in Early Modern Toledo, 1550-1650," Economics working papers mauricio_drelichman-2019-, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 03 Apr 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:bricol:mauricio_drelichman-2019-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    gender gap; discrimination; compensation; early modern; Spain;

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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