Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway

65 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2014

See all articles by Marianne Bertrand

Marianne Bertrand

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Sandra E. Black

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Sissel Jensen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Adriana Lleras-Muney

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2014

Abstract

In late 2003, Norway passed a law mandating 40 percent representation of each gender on the board of public limited liability companies. The primary objective of this reform was to increase the representation of women in top positions in the corporate sector and decrease the gender disparity in earnings within that sector. We document that the women appointed to these boards post-reform were observably more qualified than their female predecessors along many dimensions, and that the gender gap in earnings within boards fell substantially. On the other hand, we see no robust evidence that the reform benefited the larger set of women employed in the companies subject to the quota. Moreover, the reform had no clear impact on highly qualified women whose qualifications mirror those of board members but who were not appointed to boards. Finally, we find mixed support for the view that the reform affected the decisions of young women: while the reform was not accompanied by any change in female enrollment in business education programs, we do see some improvements in labor market outcomes for young women with graduate business degrees in their early career stages; however, we observe similar improvements for young women with graduate science degrees, suggesting this may not be due to the reform. Overall, seven years after the board quota policy fully came into effect, we conclude that it had very little discernible impact on women in business beyond its direct effect on the women who made it into boardrooms.

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Black, Sandra E. and Jensen, Sissel and Lleras-Muney, Adriana, Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway (June 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20256, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2460575

Marianne Bertrand (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Sandra E. Black

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics ( email )

Austin, TX
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Sissel Jensen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Adriana Lleras-Muney

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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