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

60 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 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: August 12, 2014

Abstract

In late 2003, Norway passed a law mandating 40 percent representation of each gender on the board of publicly 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 gender disparity in earnings within that sector. We document that the newly (post-reform) appointed female board members were observably more qualified than their female predecessors, and that the gender gap in earnings within boards fell substantially. While the reform may have improved the representation of female employees at the very top of the earnings distribution (top 5 highest earners) within firms that were mandated to increase female participation on their board, there is no evidence that these gains at the very top trickled-down. Moreover the reform had no obvious impact on highly qualified women whose qualifications mirror those of board members but who were not appointed to boards. We observe no statistically significant change in the gender wage gaps or in female representation in top positions, although standard errors are large enough that we cannot rule economically meaningful gains. Finally, there is little evidence that the reform affected the decisions of women more generally; it was not accompanied by any change in female enrollment in business education programs, or a convergence in earnings trajectories between recent male and female graduates of such programs. While young women preparing for a career in business report being aware of the reform and expect their earnings and promotion chances to benefit from it, the reform did not affect their fertility and marital plans. Overall, in the short run the reform had very little discernible impact on women in business beyond its direct effect on the newly appointed female board members.

Keywords: Gender discrimination, board of directors.

JEL Classification: J1, J13

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. (August 12, 2014). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 28/2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2488955 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2488955

Marianne Bertrand

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 )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

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Norway

Sissel Jensen (Contact Author)

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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