Pay Differences between Women's and Men's Jobs: the Empirical Foundations of Comparable Worth Legislation

27 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2004 Last revised: 12 Jul 2010

See all articles by George Johnson

George Johnson

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics

Gary Solon

University of Arizona; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 1984

Abstract

Civil rights legislation of the 1960s made it illegal foran employer to pay men and women on different bases for the same work or to discriminate against women in hiring, job assignment, or promotion. Two decades later, however, the ratio of women's to men's earnings has shown little upward movement. Furthermore, major sex differences in occupational distribution persist with predominantly female jobs typically paying less than predominantly male jobs. This negative relationship between wage rates and femaleness of occupatiop has stimulated efforts, in both the judicial and political arenas, to establish "comparable worth" procedures for setting wage rates.This paper etimates the relationship between wages and femaleness of occupation and finds that it is indeed negative even after controlling for relevant worker and job characteristics. The magnitude of the relationship, however, implies a surprisingly small effect for a comprehensive comparable worth policy. The estimates indicate that, even if comparable worth succeeded in eliminating this negative relationship, the disparity between mean male and female wages would be reduced by well under ten percent of its current magnitude.

Suggested Citation

Johnson, George and Solon, Gary, Pay Differences between Women's and Men's Jobs: the Empirical Foundations of Comparable Worth Legislation (September 1984). NBER Working Paper No. w1472. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=227494

George Johnson (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States

Gary Solon

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of Economics
Eller College of Management
Tucson, AZ 85719
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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