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A Short History of the Gender Wage Gap in Britain

Bryson, A; Joshi, H; Wielgoszewska, B; Wilkinson, D; (2020) A Short History of the Gender Wage Gap in Britain. Presented at: UCL Institute of Education QSS seminar, London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

After closing dramatically during World War Two the gender wage gap (GWG) was roughly constant in the decades prior to the Equal Pay Act. It closed substantially in the mid-1970s due to the Act, but the subsequent rate of narrowing has been very slow, despite improvements in equal opportunities legislation and convergence in men’s and women’s educational attainment and work experience. Within cohort the GWG increases until employees reach their 40s, after which it falls. The GWG has closed across birth cohorts at all points in the adult life-cycle but it remains substantial. Among those born in 1958, the raw GWG was 16 percentage points among workers aged 23, rising to 35 percentage points at 42. Among those born 12 years later the gaps were 9 and 31 percentage points at age 26 and age 42 respectively. Regression-adjustment for human capital investments reduces the size of the gap, especially when accounting for (full-time) work experience, where differences open up between men and women in mid-life following divergence of gender roles in the home. Results are insensitive to adjustments for sample attrition. The GWG is a little larger early in the life cycle in both birth cohorts when accounting for non-random selection into employment but selection plays no role later in life. Policy options for closing the remaining gap are considered.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: A Short History of the Gender Wage Gap in Britain
Event: UCL Institute of Education QSS seminar
Location: London, UK
Dates: 13 May 2020
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/...
Language: English
Keywords: gender wage gap, birth cohorts, employment selection
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10097324
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