Using Danish matched employer-employee data, I compare the relative pay of men and women to their relative productivity as measured by production function estimation. I find that the gender “productivity gap” is 8 percent, implying that almost two thirds of the residual gender wage gap is due to productivity differences between men and women. Motherhood plays an important role, yet it also reveals a puzzle: the pay gap for mothers is entirely explained by productivity, whereas the gap for non-mothers is not. In addition, the decoupling of pay and productivity for women without children happens during their prime-child bearing years. These estimates are robust to a variety of specifications for the impact of observables on productivity, and robust to accounting for endogenous sorting of women into less productive firms using a control-function approach. This paper also provides estimates of the productivity gap across industries and occupations, finding the same general patterns for mothers compared to women without children within these subgroups.

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Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty, Employment & Wages, Monetary Policy, Industrial Organization