Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Gender, Inequality, and Wages

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Gender, Inequality, and Wages

Article excerpt

Gender, Inequality, and Wages. By Francine D. Blau. Oxford University Press, 576pp, Pounds 55.00. ISBN 9780199665853. Published 20 September 2012

Francine Blau was one of the first academic economists to focus her research on the relative position of women in the labour market, and she is clearly among the best. This book is the ninth in the prestigious IZA Prize in Labor Economics series; each capturing the life work of that year's prizewinner.

Divided by topic, with chapters based on Blau's academic publications in specific fields, the collection covers gender wage gaps over time, changes in female labour supply, trends in well-being among American women, mentoring, racial wage inequality and immigration. A constant throughout her work is a strong emphasis on theory-motivated empirical research and the generation of policy-relevant prescriptions. The result is a detailed and multifaceted explanation of the gender wage gap, across time and countries. Blau shows that a major source of movements in this gap has been the change in occupational segregation and institutional settings but that, while the size of the overall gender gap has fallen, a persistent unexplained kernel remains. Furthermore, that kernel (reflecting discrimination) has begun to increase in size, posing a complex problem for policymakers.

While these papers are a great read for economists, they may prove to be harder work for those from other research areas. Blau does, however, offer timely introductions to each section, explaining where the literature was at the time of her research, how she contributed and where the work has advanced since. These insightful summaries, written in a non-technical manner, provide exceptionally useful portals into these research areas for non- economists.

In the book's concluding pages, Blau provides fascinating snippets explaining her motivation and linking her research topics to events taking place around her. …

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