Skip to main content

Gender disparities in top earnings: measurement and facts for Denmark 1980-2013

Abstract

Extending the work of Atkinson et al. (J. Econ. Inequal. 16, 225–256, 2018), we decompose top-earnings gender disparities into a glass-ceiling coefficient and a top-earnings gender gap. The decomposition uses that both male and female top earnings are Pareto distributed. If interpreting top-earnings gender disparities as caused by a female-specific earnings tax, the top-earnings gender gap and glass-ceiling coefficient measure the tax level and tax progressivity, respectively. Using Danish data on earnings, we show that the top-earnings gender gap and the glass-ceiling coefficient evolve differently across time, the life cycle, and educational groups. In particular, while the top-earnings gender gap has been decreasing in Denmark over the period 1980-2013, the glass-ceiling coefficient has been remarkably stable.

References

  • Albanesi, S., Olivetti, C.: Home production, market production and the gender wage gap: Incentives and expectations. Rev. Econ. Dyn. 12(1), 80–107 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Albrecht, J., Thoursie, P.S., Vroman, S.: Parental leave and the glass ceiling in Sweden. Emerald Group Publishing Limited (2015)

  • Albrecht, J., Bronson, M.A., Thoursie, P.S., Vroman, S.: The career dynamics of high-skilled women and men: Evidence from Sweden. Eur. Econ. Rev. 105, 83–102 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atkinson, A.B., Casarico, A., Voitchovsky, S.: Top Incomes and the Gender Divide. J. Econ. Inequal. 16, 225–256 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atkinson, A.B., Piketty, T., Saez, E.: Top incomes in the long run of history. J. Econ. Literat. 49(1), 3–71 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Azmat, G., Ferrer, R.: Gender Gaps in Performance: Evidence from Young Lawyers. J. Polit. Econ. 125(5), 1306–1355 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Babcock, L., Recalde, M.P., Vesterlund, L., Weingart, L.: Gender differences in accepting and receiving requests for tasks with low promotability. Amer. Econ. Rev. 107(3), 714–47 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Badel, A., Daly, M., Huggett, M., Nybom, M.: Top Earners: Cross-Country Facts. Fed. Reserv. Bank St. Louis Rev. 100(3) (2018)

  • Beede, D.N., Julian, T.A., Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Khan, B., Doms, M.E.: Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation. ESA Issue Brief, US Department of Commerce (2011)

  • Benabou, R.: Tax and education policy in a heterogeneous-agent economy: What levels of redistribution maximize growth and efficiency?. Econometrica 70 (2), 481–517 (2002)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bertrand, M., Goldin, C., Katz, L.F.: Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors. Amer. Econ. J. Appl. Econ. 2(3), 228–255 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bertrand, M.: Coase Lecture - The Glass Ceiling. Economica 85 (338), 205–231 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Black, D.A., Haviland, A.M., Sanders, S.G., Taylor, L.J.: Gender Wage Disparities among the Highly Educated. J. Hum. Resour. 43(3), 630–659 (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  • Blau, F.D., Kahn, L.M.: Women’s work and wages. The new Palgrave dictionary of economics 8, 762–72 (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  • Blau, F.D., Kahn, L.M.: The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations. J. Econ. Lit. 55(3), 789–865 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boschini, A., Gunnarsson, K., Roine, J.: Women in top incomes–evidence from sweden 1971–2017. J. Publ. Econ. 181, 104115 (2020)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bütikofer, A., Jensen, S., Salvanes, K.G.: The role of parenthood on the gender gap among top earners. Eur. Econ. Rev. 109, 103–123 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Feldstein, M.S.: The Effects of Taxation on Risk Taking. J. Polit. Econ. 77(5), 755–764 (1969)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fernández, R.s, Wong, J.C.: Divorce risk, wages and working wives: A quantitative life-cycle analysis of female labour force participation. Econ. J. 124(576), 319–358 (2014)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gabaix, X.: Power Laws in Economics: An Introduction. J. Econ. Perspect. 30(1), 185–206 (2016a)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gabaix, X., Lasry, J-M, Lions, P-L, Moll, B.: The dynamics of inequality. Econometrica 84(6), 2071–2111 (2016b)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gallen, Y., Lesner, R.V., Vejlin, R.: The labor market gender gap in denmark: Sorting out the past 30 years. Labour Econ. 56, 58–67 (2019)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guner, N., Kaygusuz, R., Ventura, G.: Taxation and household labor supply. Rev. Econ. Stud. 79(3), 1113–1149 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guvenen, F., Kaplan, G., Song, J.: The glass ceiling and the paper floor: Gender differences among top earners, 1981--2012. Technical report, National Bureau of Economic Research (2014)

  • Handcock, M.S., Morris, M.: Relative distribution methods in the social sciences. Springer Science & Business Media (2006)

  • Heathcote, J., Storesletten, K., Violante, G.L.: Optimal tax progressivity: An analytical framework. Q. J. Econ. 132(4), 1693–1754 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hsieh, C-T, Hurst, E., Jones, C.I., Klenow, P.J.: The allocation of talent and us economic growth. Econometrica 87(5), 1439–1474 (2019)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jena, A.B., Olenski, A.R., Blumenthal, D.M.: Sex Differences in Physician Salary in US Public Medical Schools. JAMA Intern. Med. 176(9), 1294 (2016)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, C.I., Kim, J.: A schumpeterian model of top income inequality. J. Polit. Econ. 126(5), 1785–1826 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lambert, P.J., Subramanian, S.: Disparities in socio-economic outcomes: some positive propositions and their normative implications. Soc. Choice Welf. 43(3), 565–576 (2014)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LeBreton, M., Michelangeli, A., Peluso, E.: A stochastic dominance approach to the measurement of discrimination. J. Econ. Theory 147(4), 1342–1350 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Manning, A., Swaffield, J.: The Gender Gap in Early-Career Wage Growth. Econ. J. 118(530), 983–1024 (2008)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Niederle, M., Vesterlund, L.: Do women shy away from competition? do men compete too much?. Quart. J. Econ. 122(3), 1067–1101 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Niederle, M., Vesterlund, L.: Gender and competition. Annu. Rev. Econ. 3(1), 601–630 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Polachek, S.W., Tatsiramos, K., Zimmermann, K.F.: Gender convergence in the labor market. Emerald Group Publishing (2015)

  • Roine, J., Waldenström, D.: Long-run trends in the distribution of income and wealth. In: Handbook of income distribution, vol. 2, pp. 469–592. Elsevier (2015)

  • Steindl, J.: Random processes and the growth of firms: A study of the pareto law, vol. 18. Hafner Publishing Company, New York (1965)

  • UNESCO: ISCED Fields of Education and Training 2013 (ISCED-F 2013). Technical Report. UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2014)

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful for comments from the editor, anonymous referees, Arizo Karimi, Oskar Nordström Skans and seminar participants at CBS, IIES, and UC Santa Barbara. All errors are our own. The views herein are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the IMF, its Executive Board, or its management. Funding from Lars Hierta’s Foundation and Handelsbanken’s Research Foundations is gratefully acknowledged.

Funding

Open Access funding provided by Uppsala University.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Erik Öberg.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hansen, NJ.H., Harmenberg, K., Öberg, E. et al. Gender disparities in top earnings: measurement and facts for Denmark 1980-2013. J Econ Inequal 19, 347–362 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10888-020-09476-1

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10888-020-09476-1

Keywords

  • Decomposition
  • Gender gap
  • Glass ceiling
  • Summary statistics