Working Paper Series
Eva M. Meyerson, Trond Petersen and Vemund Snartland
Are Female Workers Less Productive Than Male Workers? Productivity and the Gender Wage Gap
Abstract: It is extraordinarily difficult to determine the extent to
which the gender wage gap reflects discriminatory behaviors by employers or
differences in productive capacities between men and women. We note that
where piece-rate work is performed, wages should in principle reflect
productivity differences and that it is more difficult to discriminate on
the basis of gender because one is paid for what one produces. With this as
our point of departure, we compared men and women working in the same
occupation in the same establishment, in three countries, the U.S., Norway,
and Sweden. Our findings are easy to summarize. First, the gender wage gap
is clearly smaller under piece- than under time-rate work. According to the
argument put forth here, one third of the gap at the
occupation-establishment level is due to discrimination, while two thirds
of the gap is due to productivity differences.
The main finding is that
the productivity differences between sexes in typically male-dominated
blue-collar industries are very small, of 1-3%. Second, in age groups where
women on average have extensive family obligations, the wage gap is higher
than in other age groups. Third, under time-rate work, the wage gap is more
or less independent of supposed productivity differences between men and
women, while under piece-rate work. The wage gap mirrors quite closely
assumed productivity differences, with women receiving a wage premium in
female-advantageous settings and a penalty in male-advantageous settings.
Fourth, in two of three countries women sort more often into piece-rate
work than men.
Keywords: Productivity; Sex discrimination; Wages; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: J16; J24; J31; (follow links to similar papers)
38 pages, June 26, 1998
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