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The Gap that Survived the Transition: The Gender Wage Gap over Three Decades in Estonia

Author

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  • Jaanika Meriküll
  • Maryna Tverdostup

    (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw)

Abstract

This paper looks at the gender wage gap throughout the transition from communism to capitalism and throughout a time of rapid economic convergence. The case of Estonia is used, and micro data from the Labour Force Survey from 1989 to 2020 are employed. The communist regimes had highly regulated wage setting and high levels of educational attainment and labour market participation for women. Although the regime was formally egalitarian, the gender attitudes were conservative and the raw gender wage gap was as large as 41% at the end of the communist period in Estonia. The large gender wage gap under communist rule narrowed quickly during the first years of economic transition, but the further decline in the gap has been slow. The paper has two main messages. The first is that there is strong inertia in the gender wage gap persisting through the communist period and economic convergence. None of the known long-run cultural drivers of gender attitudes can explain this. The second is that the decline in the gap is related to the overall decline in wage inequality, the rise in minimum wages, and more egalitarian gender attitudes. The gender attitudes are responsible for a smaller effect than wage inequality is.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaanika Meriküll & Maryna Tverdostup, 2021. "The Gap that Survived the Transition: The Gender Wage Gap over Three Decades in Estonia," wiiw Working Papers 206, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
  • Handle: RePEc:wii:wpaper:206
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    Cited by:

    1. Ilona Pavlenkova & Luca Alfieri & Jaan Masso, 2021. "Effects Of Automation On The Gender Pay Gap: The Case Of Estonia," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 131, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    2. Masso, Jaan & Meriküll, Jaanika & Vahter, Priit, 2022. "The role of firms in the gender wage gap," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 454-473.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender wage gap; wage distribution; decomposition; post-communist economies; wage inequality; minimum wages; gender attitudes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • P23 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population

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