The Perceived Justice of Personal Income: Gender-Specific Patterns and the Importance of the Household Context (Die wahrgenommene Gerechtigkeit des eigenen Erwerbseinkommens: Geschlechtstypische Muster und die Bedeutung des Haushaltskontextes)
25 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 1, 2010
The rise in female labor market participation and the growth of "atypical" employment arrangements has, over the last few decades, brought about a steadily decreasing percentage of households in which the man is the sole breadwinner, and a rising percentage of dual-earner households. Against this backdrop, the present paper investigates how household contexts in which the traditional "male breadwinner" model still exists or has already been challenged affect individuals’ subjective evaluations of the justice of their personal earnings. In the first step we derive three criteria used by individuals to evaluate the fairness or justice of their personal earnings: compensation for services rendered, coverage of basic needs, and the opportunity to earn social approval. In the second step, we apply considerations from household economics and new approaches from gender research to explain why men’s and women’s evaluations of justice are determined to a considerable degree by the specific situation within their household. The assumptions derived regarding gender-specific patterns in justice attitudes are then tested on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) from 2007 and 2005. The results support our central thesis that gender-specific patterns in the evaluation of personal earnings are both reduced and increased in dual-earner households. They are reduced because women in dual-income households tend to have higher income expectations that challenge the existing gender wage gap. At the same time, gender-specific patterns are increased because men evaluate the equity of their personal income in relation to their ability to fulfill traditional gender norms and thus their capacity to live up to corresponding notions of "masculinity."
Keywords: fairness, equity, inequality, pay differentials, dual-earner households, gender, gender norms
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