Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap

63 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2001 Last revised: 26 Jul 2001

See all articles by Francine D. Blau

Francine D. Blau

Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Lawrence M. Kahn

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 2001

Abstract

This paper tests the hypotheses that overall wage compression and low female supply relative to demand reduce a country's gender pay gap. Using micro-data for 22 countries over the 1985-94 period, we find that more compressed male wage structures and lower female net supply are both associated with a lower gender pay gap. Since it is likely that labor market institutions are responsible for an important portion of international differences in wage inequality, the inverse relationship between the gender pay gap and male wage inequality suggests that wage-setting mechanisms, such as encompassing collective bargaining agreements, that provide for relatively high wage floors raise the relative pay of women, who tend to be at the bottom of the wage distribution. Consistent with this view, we find that the extent of collective bargaining coverage in each country is significantly negatively associated with its gender pay gap. Moreover, the effect of pay structures on the gender pay gap is quantitatively very important: a large part of the difference in the gender differential between high gap and low gap countries is explained by the differences across these countries in overall wage structure, with another potentially important segment due to differences in female net supply.

Suggested Citation

Blau, Francine D. and Kahn, Lawrence M., Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap (April 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8200. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=265295

Francine D. Blau (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-4381 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/directory/fdb4/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

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Berlin, 10117
Germany

Lawrence M. Kahn

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-0510 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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