The Us Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence

65 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2004 Last revised: 29 Aug 2010

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: October 2004

Abstract

We use data from the Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to study the slowdown in the convergence of female and male wages in the 1990s compared to the 1980s. We found that changes in human capital did not contribute to the trends, since women improved their relative human capital to a comparable extent in the 1980s and the 1990s. Occupational upgrading of women and deunionization explained a portion of the slower 1990s convergence since the positive effect of these factors on women's relative wage gains was larger in the 1980s. However, the largest factor accounting for the slowing of wage convergence was the trend in the "unexplained gap," which was sufficient to more than fully account for the slowdown in wage convergence in the 1990s. Factors that may have contributed to the slower narrowing of the unexplained gender pay gap include changes in labor force selectivity, changes in gender differences in unmeasured characteristics and labor market discrimination, and changes in the favorableness of supply and demand shifts. We find some evidence consistent with each of these factors suggesting that each may have played a role in explaining the observed trends.

Suggested Citation

Blau, Francine D. and Kahn, Lawrence M., The Us Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence (October 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10853. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=609227

Francine D. Blau (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
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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
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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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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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