Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence from a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment

28 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2012 Last revised: 30 Jan 2022

See all articles by Andreas Leibbrandt

Andreas Leibbrandt

Monash University

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2012

Abstract

One explanation advanced for the persistent gender pay differences in labor markets is that women avoid salary negotiations. By using a natural field experiment that randomizes nearly 2,500 job-seekers into jobs that vary important details of the labor contract, we are able to observe both the nature of sorting and the extent of salary negotiations. We observe interesting data patterns. For example, we find that when there is no explicit statement that wages are negotiable, men are more likely to negotiate than women. However, when we explicitly mention the possibility that wages are negotiable, this difference disappears, and even tends to reverse. In terms of sorting, we find that men in contrast to women prefer job environments where the 'rules of wage determination' are ambiguous. This leads to the gender gap being much more pronounced in jobs that leave negotiation of wage ambiguous.

Suggested Citation

Leibbrandt, Andreas and List, John A., Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence from a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment (November 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18511, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2170634

Andreas Leibbrandt (Contact Author)

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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