The Labor Market Gender Gap in Denmark: Sorting Out the Past 30 Years

40 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2017

See all articles by Yana Gallen

Yana Gallen

University of Chicago

Rune Lesner

Aarhus University

Rune Vejlin

University of Aarhus


We document the declining gap between the average earnings of women and men in Denmark from 1980 to 2010. The decline in the earnings gap is driven by increased labor force participation and in-creases in hours worked by women, and to a smaller extent by a decline in the gender wage gap. The gap has declined least among higher earning women – the average wage of the top 10 percent of female earners is 28-33% lower than the average wage of the top 10 percent of male earners. Women are becoming more educated and are a larger share of the professional labor force than in previous decades, but a substantial wage gap of about 10 percent remains for the youngest cohorts even after controlling for age, education, experience, occupation, and firm choice. Unlike the case of the US, differences in educational attainment, occupational choice, industry, and experience explained about 15 percentage points of the Danish wage gap in 1980, but now these factors explain only about 6 percent-age points of the Danish wage gap. In fact, though variation in the wage gap across occupations is substantial, this variation is not correlated with the fraction of the occupation which is female. The data show a great deal of sorting and segregation across industries, occupations, and even firms. However, this sorting does not explain more than half of the wage gap. We conclude that a great deal of the remaining disparity between the wages of women and men is tied to the differential effects of parenthood by gender.

Keywords: gender pay gap, sorting

JEL Classification: J71, J31

Suggested Citation

Gallen, Yana and Lesner, Rune and Vejlin, Rune, The Labor Market Gender Gap in Denmark: Sorting Out the Past 30 Years. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10789, Available at SSRN: or

Yana Gallen (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Rune Lesner

Aarhus University ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
Aarhus, 8000

Rune Vejlin

University of Aarhus ( email )

Building 350
DK-8000 Aarhus C

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