Gender

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Equal pay legislation and the gender wage gap

Despite major efforts at equal pay legislation, gender pay inequality still exists in the developed economies. How can this be put right?

10.15185/izawol.16 16 Polachek, S

by Solomon W. Polachek

Despite equal pay legislation dating back 50 years, American women still earn 22% less than their male counterparts. In the UK, with its Equal Pay Act of 1970, and France, which legislated in 1972, the gap is 21% and 17% respectively, and in Australia it remains around 17%. Interestingly, the gender pay gap is relatively small for the young but increases as men and women grow older. Similarly, it is large when comparing married men and women, but smaller for singles. Just what can explain these wage patterns? And what can governments do to speed up wage convergence to close the gender pay gap? Clearly, the gender pay gap continues to be an important policy issue.

Gender diversity in teams

Greater representation of women on decision-making teams may better represent women’s preferences but may not help economic performance

10.15185/izawol.29 29 Azmat, G

by Ghazala Azmat

Women’s representation on corporate boards, political committees, and other teams is increasing, in part because of legal mandates. Understanding the effects of gender diversity in terms of economic performance is important to assess the impact of these changes. Data on team dynamics and gender differences in preferences (risk-taking behavior, taste for competition, prosocial behavior) show how gender composition influences group decision-making and subsequent performance through channels such as investment decisions, internal management, corporate governance, and social responsibility.

Gender quotas on boards of directors

Little evidence that gender quotas for women on boards of directors improve firm performance

10.15185/izawol.7 7 Smith, N

by Nina Smith

Arguments for increasing gender diversity on boards of directors range from ensuring equal opportunity to improving firm performance, but the empirical results are mixed and often negative. Current research does not justify gender quotas on grounds of economic efficiency. Furthermore, in most countries the number of women qualified to join boards of directors is limited, and it is not clear from the evidence that quotas lead to a larger pool of qualified female candidates in the medium and long term.

Teenage childbearing and labor market implications for women

Teenage childbearing is less a cause of inferior labor market outcomes for women than a marker of other social problems in a girl’s life

10.15185/izawol.28 28 Levine, P

by Phillip B. Levine

It is not difficult to find statistics showing that 
teenage childbearing is associated with poor labor market outcomes, but why is this the case? Does having a child as a teenager genuinely affect a 
woman’s economic potential—or is it simply a marker of problems she might already be facing as a result of her social and family background? The answer 
to this question has important implications for 
policy measures that could be taken to improve women’s lives.

Women in crime

Over the last 50 years women have been increasing their participation in the labor market and in the crime market

10.15185/izawol.105 105 Campaniello, N

by Nadia Campaniello

In recent decades, women’s participation in the labor market has increased considerably in most countries and is converging toward the participation rate of men. Though on a lesser scale, a similar movement toward gender convergence seems to be occurring in the criminal world, though many more men than women still engage in criminal activity. Technological progress and social norms have freed women from the home, increasing their participation in both the labor market and the crime market. With crime no longer just men’s business, it is important to investigate female criminal behavior to determine whether the policy prescriptions to reduce crime should differ for women.

Sexual orientation and labor market outcomes

Sexual orientation seems to affect job access and satisfaction, earning prospects, and interaction with colleagues

10.15185/izawol.111 111 Drydakis, N

by Nick Drydakis

Studies from countries with laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation suggest that gay and lesbian employees report more incidents of harassment and are more likely to report experiencing unfair treatment in the labor market than are heterosexual employees. Gay men are found to earn less than comparably skilled and experienced heterosexual men. For lesbians, the patterns are ambiguous: in some countries they have been found to earn less than their heterosexual counterparts, while in others they earn the same or more. Both gay men and lesbians tend to be less satisfied with their jobs than their heterosexual counterparts.

Trade liberalization and gender inequality

Can free-trade policies help to reduce gender inequalities in employment and wages?

10.15185/izawol.114 114 Pieters, J

by Janneke Pieters

Women consistently work less in the labor market and earn lower wages than men. While economic empowerment of women is an important objective in itself, women’s economic activity also matters as a condition for sustained economic growth. The political debate on the labor market impacts of international trade typically differentiates workers by their educational attainment or skills. Gender is a further dimension in which the impacts of trade liberalization can differ. In a globalizing world it is important to understand whether and how trade policy can contribute toward enhancing gender convergence in labor market outcomes.

Wage compression and the gender pay gap

Wage-setting institutions narrow the gender pay gap but may reduce employment for some women

10.15185/izawol.150 150 Kahn, L

by Lawrence M. Kahn

There are large international differences in the gender pay gap. In some developed countries in 2010–2012, women were close to earnings parity with men, while in others large gaps remained. Since women and men have different average levels of education and experience and commonly work in different industries and occupations, multiple factors can influence the gender pay gap. Among them are skill supply and demand, unions, and minimum wages, which influence the economywide wage returns to education, experience, and occupational wage differentials. Systems of wage compression narrow the gender pay gap but may also lower demand for female workers.

Policies to support women’s paid work

Policies in developing countries to improve women’s access to paid work should also consider child welfare

10.15185/izawol.157 157 Giannelli, G

by Gianna Claudia Giannelli

Engaging in paid work is generally difficult for women in developing countries. Many women work unpaid in family businesses or on farms, are engaged in low-income self-employment activities, or work in low-paid wage employment. In some countries, vocational training or grants for starting a business have been effective policy tools for supporting women’s paid work. Mostly lacking, however, are job and business training programs that take into account how mothers’ employment affects child welfare. Access to free or subsidized public childcare can increase women’s labor force participation and improve children’s well-being.

Sexual harassment in the workplace

Despite being illegal, costly, and an affront to dignity, sexual harassment is pervasive and challenging to eliminate

10.15185/izawol.188 188 Hersch, J

by Joni Hersch

Workplace sexual harassment is internationally condemned as sex discrimination and a violation of human rights, and more than 75 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting it. Sexual harassment in the workplace increases absenteeism and turnover and lowers workplace productivity and job satisfaction. Yet it remains pervasive and underreported, and neither legislation nor market incentives have been able to eliminate it. Strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment, workplace training, and a complaints process that protects workers from retaliation seem to offer the most promise in reducing sexual harassment.

Feminization of migration and trends in remittances

Independent female migrants may be a reliable source of remittances despite the difficulties they encounter in labor markets

10.15185/izawol.220 220 Le Goff, M

by Maelan Le Goff

Migrants’ remittances to developing countries have increased in recent decades, partly due to reduced transactions costs and improved living conditions in host countries. The feminization of international migration represents yet another explanation. Despite the difficulties female migrants encounter in the labor market, their total remittances may be higher and more resilient than those of male migrants, owing to these women’s stronger links to family members left behind and self-insurance motives. Policymakers need to understand how this new and significant upward trend in female migration could affect the economic and social development of home countries.

Female education and its impact on fertility

The relationship is more complex than one may think

10.15185/izawol.228 228 Kim, J

by Jungho Kim

The negative correlation between women’s education and fertility is strongly observed across regions and time; however, its interpretation is unclear. Women’s education level could affect fertility through its impact on women’s health and their physical capacity to give birth, children’s health, the number of children desired, and women’s ability to control birth and knowledge of different birth control methods. Each of these mechanisms depends on the individual, institutional, and country circumstances experienced. Their relative importance may change along a country’s economic development process.

Gender differences in competitiveness

To what extent can different attitudes towards competition for men and women explain the gender gap in labor markets?

10.15185/izawol.236 236 Lackner, M

by Mario Lackner

Differences in labor market outcomes for women and men are highly persistent. Apart from discrimination, one frequently mentioned explanation could be differences in the attitude towards competition for both genders. Abundant empirical evidence indicates that multiple influences shape attitudes towards competition during different periods of the life cycle. Gender differences in competitiveness will not only influence outcomes during working age, but also during early childhood education. In order to reduce the gender gap in educational and labor market outcomes, it is crucial to understand when and why gender gaps in competitiveness arise and to study their consequences.

Do childcare policies increase maternal employment?

Subsidized childcare fosters maternal employment, but employment status, childcare quality, and availability matter

10.15185/izawol.241 241 Vuri, D

by Daniela Vuri

Women’s labor force participation has rapidly increased in most countries, but mothers still struggle to achieve a satisfactory work−life balance. Childcare allows the primary caregiver, usually the mother, to take time away from childrearing for employment. Family policies that subsidize childcare and increase its availability have different effects on female labor supply across countries. For policymakers to determine how well these policies work, they should consider that policy effectiveness may depend on country-specific pre-reform female employment and earnings, and childcare availability, costs, and quality.

Conditions for high-potential female entrepreneurship

Individual and environmental factors can lead women to start innovative market-expanding and export-oriented ventures—or block them

10.15185/izawol.255 255 Terjesen, S

by Siri A. Terjesen

Female-led ventures that are market-expanding, export-oriented, and innovative contribute substantially to local and national economic development, as well as to the female entrepreneur’s economic welfare. Female-led ventures also serve as models that can encourage other high-potential female entrepreneurs. The supply of high-potential entrepreneurial ventures is driven by individuals’ entrepreneurial attitudes and institutional factors associated with a country’s conditions for entrepreneurial expansion. A systematic assessment of those factors can show policymakers the strengths and weaknesses of the environment for high-potential female entrepreneurship.

Gender differences in risk attitudes

Belief in the existence of gender differences in risk attitudes is stronger than the evidence supporting it

10.15185/izawol.100 100 Filippin, A

by Antonio Filippin

Many experimental studies and surveys have shown that women consistently display more risk-averse behavior than men when confronted with decisions involving risk. These differences in risk preferences, when combined with gender differences in other behavioral traits, such as fondness for competition, have been used to explain important phenomena in labor and financial markets. Recent evidence has challenged this consensus, however, finding gender differences in risk attitudes to be smaller than previously thought and showing greater heterogeneity of results depending on the method used to measure risk aversion.

Is maternal employment related to childhood obesity?

Institutions and policies affect whether working mothers raise heavier children

10.15185/izawol.267 267 Gwozdz, W

by Wencke Gwozdz

Childhood obesity has been rising steadily in most parts of the world. Popular speculation attributes some of that increase to rising maternal employment. Employed mothers spend less time at home and thus less time with their children, whose diets and physical activity may suffer. Also, children of working mothers may spend more time in the care of others, whose childcare quality may vary substantially. While a majority of US studies support this hypothesis and have clear policy implications, recent studies in other countries are less conclusive, largely because institutional arrangements differ but also because methodologies do.

Parental leave and maternal labor supply

Parental leave increases the family–work balance, but may have negative impacts on mothers’ careers

10.15185/izawol.279 279 Kunze, A

by Astrid Kunze

Numerous studies have investigated whether the provision and generosity of parental leave affects the employment and career prospects of women. Parental leave systems typically provide either short unpaid leave mandated by the firm, as in the US, or more generous and universal leave mandated by the government, as in Canada and several European countries. Key economic policy questions include whether, at the macro level, female employment rates have increased due to parental leave policies; and, at the micro level, whether the probability of returning to work and career prospects have increased for mothers after childbirth.

Women’s labor force participation

Family-friendly policies increase women’s labor force participation, benefiting them, their families, and society at large

10.15185/izawol.289 289 Winkler, A

by Anne E. Winkler

Female labor force participation is mainly driven by the value of women’s market wages versus the value of their non-market time. Labor force participation by women varies considerably across countries. To understand this international variation, one must further consider differences across countries in institutions, non-economic factors such as cultural norms, and public policies. Such differences provide important insights into what actions countries might take to further increase women’s participation in the labor market.

Why do we need longitudinal survey data?

Knowing people’s history helps in understanding their present state and where they are heading

10.15185/izawol.308 308 Joshi, H

by Heather Joshi

Information from longitudinal surveys transforms snapshots of a given moment into something with a time dimension. It illuminates patterns of events within an individual’s life and records mobility and immobility between older and younger generations. It can track the different pathways of men and women and people of diverse socio-economic background through the life course. It can join up data on aspects of a person’s life, health, education, family, and employment and show how these domains affect one another. It is ideal for bridging the different silos of policies that affect people’s lives.

Gender wage discrimination

Does the extent of competition in labor markets explain why female workers are paid less than men?

10.15185/izawol.310 310 Hirsch, B

by Boris Hirsch

There are pronounced and persistent wage differences between men and women in all parts of the world. A significant element of these wage disparities can be attributed to differences in worker and workplace characteristics, which are likely to mirror differences in worker productivity. However, a large part of these differences remains unexplained, and it is common to attribute them to discrimination by the employer that is rooted in prejudice against female workers. Yet recent empirical evidence suggests that, to a large extent, the gaps reflect “monopsonistic” wage discrimination—that is, employers exploiting their wage-setting power over women—rather than any sort of prejudice.

Can universal preschool increase the labor supply of mothers?

The success of universal preschool education depends crucially on the policy parameters and specific country context

10.15185/izawol.312 312 Cattan, S

by Sarah Cattan

Since the 1970s, many countries have established free or highly subsidized education for all preschool children in the hope of improving children’s learning and socio-economic life chances and encouraging mothers to join the labor force. Evaluations reveal that these policies can increase maternal employment in the short term and may continue to do so even after the child is no longer in preschool by enabling mothers to gain more job skills and increase their attachment to the labor force. However, their effectiveness depends on the policy design, the country context, and the characteristics of mothers of preschoolers.

Childcare expansion and mothers’ employment in post-socialist countries

A range of other policies and changes are needed for childcare expansion to increase mothers’ labor supply

10.15185/izawol.319 319 Lovász, A

by Anna Lovász

In 2002, the EU set targets for expanding childcare coverage, but most of the post-socialist countries are behind schedule. While childcare expansion places a heavy financial burden on governments, low participation in the labor force by mothers, especially those with children under the age of three, implies a high potential impact. However, the effectiveness of childcare expansion may be limited by some common characteristics of these countries: family policies that do not support women’s labor market re-entry, few flexible work opportunities, and cultural norms about family and gender roles shaped by the institutional and economic legacy of socialism.

Gender differences in wages and leadership

Gender gaps in wages and leadership positions are large—Why, and what can be done about it?

10.15185/izawol.323 323 Macis, M

by Mario Macis

Gender wage gaps and women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions exist at remarkably similar magnitudes across countries at all levels of income per capita. Women’s educational attainment and labor market participation have improved, but this has been insufficient to close the gaps. A combination of economic forces, cultural and social norms, discrimination, and unequal legal rights appear to be contributing to gender inequality. A range of policy options (such as quotas) have been implemented in some countries; some have been successful, whereas for others the effects are still unclear.