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Does More Mean Less? The Male/Female Wage Gap and the Proportion of Females at the Establishment Level


  • Kevin T. Reilly
  • Tony Wirjanto

    (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo)


This paper examines the effect of the proportion of females in the establishment on the male/female wage gap and the effectiveness of an affirmative action program in reducing this gap. A unique data set makes this paper possible since it has information on both individuals and the establishments they work for. The paper documents a significant difference in the sex composition of the establishment in which males and females work. Further, it is shown that the proportion of females in the establishment is negatively related to the wages of both males and females and accounts for 26 percent of the gap in log wages between men and woment. Due to an inadequacy of the traditional method of decomposing wages when examining an affirmative action program, a new method of decomposition is developed: the characteristic wage decomposition. The results suggest that an employment equity programme will reduce the male/female wage gap by 20 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin T. Reilly & Tony Wirjanto, 1997. "Does More Mean Less? The Male/Female Wage Gap and the Proportion of Females at the Establishment Level," Working Papers 98001, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Sep 1997.
  • Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:98001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)


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