Socially Gainful Gender Quotas

15 Pages Posted: 14 May 2014

See all articles by Oded Stark

Oded Stark

University of Bonn; University of Warsaw; University of Tuebingen; Georgetown University

Walter Hyll

Halle Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: May 2014


We study the impact of gender quotas on the acquisition of human capital. We assume that individuals’ formation of human capital is influenced by the prospect of landing high-pay top positions, and that these positions are regulated by gender-specific quotas. In the absence of quotas, women consider their chances of getting top positions to be lower than men’s. The lure of top positions induces even men of relatively low ability to engage in human capital formation, whereas women of relatively high ability do not expect to get top positions and do not therefore engage in human capital formation. Gender quotas discourage men who are less efficient in forming human capital, and encourage women who are more efficient in forming human capital. We provide a condition under which the net result of the institution of gender quotas is an increase in human capital in the economy as a whole.

Keywords: Gender quotas, Affirmative action, Human capital formation

JEL Classification: D01, D21, J16, J24, J70, M51

Suggested Citation

Stark, Oded and Hyll, Walter, Socially Gainful Gender Quotas (May 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Oded Stark (Contact Author)

University of Bonn ( email )

Walter-Flex-Str. 3
Bonn, NRW 53113

University of Warsaw ( email )

Dluga Street 44/50
Warsaw, 00-241

University of Tuebingen

Wilhelmstr. 19
Tuebingen, Baden Wuerttemberg 72074

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Walter Hyll

Halle Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Kleine Maerkerstrasse 8

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