Explaining the Gender Salary Gap for the Educated

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Mary Ellen Benedict David McClough


Closing the gender pay gap represents gains relative to men. Persistence of a gender wage gap represents an injustice if women are denied employment opportunities afforded to men or are paid less than men to perform identical work. This study uses the 1993, 2003, and 2010 National Survey of College Graduates to examine the gender salary gap. The study confirms that men earn more than women after controlling for demographic, human capital, and occupational variables. The gap has remained relatively constant during the period 1993-2010. The paper assesses occupational segregation, "feminization", and compensating differentials. Occupation and occupational segregation explain some of the gap. Women entering male-dominated occupations experience salary gains, while women entering occupations dominated by women experience salary declines. Married men receive a premium, whereas married women with children appear penalized. Several factors affect the gender pay gap, not all of which are economic in nature. (J23, J31)

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