The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time

By David B. Grusky; Tamar Kricheli-Katz | Go to book overview

The Sources of the Gender Pay Gap

Francine D. Blau

The sources of the gender pay gap can usefully be divided into two broad sets of causes directly related to gender: gender differences in qualifications and labor market discrimination against women. Based on the available evidence, my own view is that both of these factors play a role in producing a gender pay gap. And, changes in each dimension—that is, in the extent of gender differences in qualifications and in the extent of labor market discrimination— have played a role in the decrease in the gender pay gap we have observed over time. In this essay, I shall lay out the reasoning and evidence behind this conclusion. I shall particularly emphasize the major point of disagreement between myself and Professor Polachek—that is, the importance I ascribe to labor market discrimination. How women fare in the labor market may also be affected by broader economy-wide or labor market-wide forces, such as the relative demand for workers in various occupations and industries. While

Francine D. Blau is the Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor
Relations and professor of economics at Cornell University and a research
associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is the author of
Equal Pay in the Office and, with Lawrence Kahn, of At Home and Abroad:
U.S. Labor Market Performance in International Perspective
. She is the editor,
with David Grusky and Mary Brinton, of The Declining Significance of Gender?,
and, with Ronald Ehrenberg, of Gender and Family Issues in the Workplace. She
received the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award for furthering the status of women in the
economics profession from the American Economic Association Committee on
the Status of Women in the Economics Profession in 2001 and the IZA Prize for
outstanding academic achievement in the field of labor economics in 2010.

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