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Is the size of Danish gender pay gap still unchanged?


How large is the gender pay gap in Denmark today? Is the size of this pay gap changing or is it still as high as it was at the beginning of this decade? To what extent are potential changes in this gap linked to changes in the way men and woman are distributed with respect to e.g. human capital factors and labour market positions? An ongoing project seeks to answer these questions by using a large register data set including information about the period from 2007 to 2011.

As in many other countries, the gender pay gap in Denmark has remained persistent, even though women have made large gains in education, employment and earnings since the 1960s. During the period from 1997-2006, for which we have comparable data, the Danish gender pay gap was stable at about 20 percent.

Figures for Denmark show that while only 14 percent of women earned more than their spouses in 1985, this share has increased to 31 percent today. Part the explanation is that men have been left behind in average educational level. So far, however, women’s higher level of education has not changed the gender pay gap significantly.

The Danish Ministry of Employment has commissioned the Danish National Centre for Social Research to examine the developments in the Danish gender pay gap in the period from 2007 to 2011. The project builds on a large register data set containing information on hourly wages for all employees in public institutions and all employees in private firms with at least ten full-time employees. If an employee has more than one employment during the year, this individual is included more than once in the data for this particular year. We restrict our data to employees aged between 25 and 59 years. All in all, we use information on about 1.6-1.8 million employments for each year. The wage data are merged with information from other registers about education, experience, sector, industry, occupation, working hours, and firm as well as family characteristics, maternity and paternity leave.

We examine two topics in this project. First, we calculate the pay gap between men and women. For this purpose, we apply different measures of hourly wages: one measure capturing costs and another measure capturing earnings. Second, we decompose the gender pay gap, taking into account a large number of explanatory variables including information about human capital factors, labour market position, firm, family characteristics and leave. This analysis informs us about whether a potential change in the gender pay gap is linked to changes in the way men and women are distributed on the basis of these factors.

We conduct our calculations and analyses for the labour market as a whole as well as for the governmental, regional/municipal and private sectors, respectively.

The results of this project are expected be published during late summer 2013.

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