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An Evaluation of the Gender Wage Gap Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data

Working Paper Number CES-20-34
THOMAS B. FOSTER, MARTA MURRAY-CLOSE, LIANA CHRISTIN LANDIVAR, AND MARK DEWOLF

Abstract

The narrowing of the gender wage gap has slowed in recent decades. However, current estimates show that, among full-time year-round workers, women earn approximately 18 to 20 percent less than men at the median. Women’s human capital and labor force characteristics that drive wages increasingly resemble men’s, so remaining differences in these characteristics explain less of the gender wage gap now than in the past. As these factors wane in importance, studies show that others like occupational and industrial segregation explain larger portions of the gender wage gap. However, a major limitation of these studies is that the large datasets required to analyze occupation and industry effectively lack measures of labor force experience. This study combines survey and administrative data to analyze and improve estimates of the gender wage gap within detailed occupations, while also accounting for gender differences in work experience. We find a gender wage gap of 18 percent among full-time, year-round workers across 316 detailed occupation categories. We show the wage gap varies significantly by occupation: while wages are at parity in some occupations, gaps are as large as 45 percent in others. More competitive and hazardous occupations, occupations that reward longer hours of work, and those that have a larger proportion of women workers have larger gender wage gaps. The models explain less of the wage gap in occupations with these attributes. Occupational characteristics shape the conditions under which men and women work and we show these characteristics can make for environments that are more or less conducive to gender parity in earnings.

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