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Analysing the glass ceiling and sticky floor effects in Bangladesh: evidence, extent and elements

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With deep-seated gender imbalances prevalent in Bangladesh, it is compelling to understand how those women, who do manage to get employed, are faring in terms of equity. A popular approach involves analysing the gender wage gap across the entire distribution. With the assistance of the latest data from QLFS 2016–2017, the gender wage gap is decomposed, with selection issues addressed by Buchinsky (J Appl Econom 13(1):1–30, 1998) method. The paper has then proceeded to posit the existence of a strong sticky floor effect and a weaker glass ceiling effect in Bangladesh, with discriminatory rewards to observed characteristics being the dominant feature of the observed wage gap across the entire distribution. Women face discrimination at the bottom end chiefly due to differences in returns. On the other hand, women at the top are subject to extensive discrimination despite being superior to men in terms of endowment. Consequently, low-earning women require access to jobs which reward their skills as much as their male counterparts; the same holds true for the high-income group. There is also evidence of selection bias for both genders. Policy prescriptions based on these findings and potential avenues for further scope concerning the paper are also mentioned in the end.

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Fig. 1

Source: Author’s own calculation from QLFS 2016-17, BBS

Fig. 2

Source: Author’s own calculation

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Availability of data and material (data transparency)

The dataset analysed during the current study can be obtained from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). It is not publicly available.

Code availability (software application or custom code)

Available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  1. Although Ahmed and McGillivray (2015) mentioned in an endnote that they ran the selection exercise using a semi-parametric approach, they do not include the results in their study upon not finding much deviation from the unadjusted results.

  2. The official retirement age in Bangladesh is 59 years (60 years for freedom fighters) but this is only applicable for the public sector, whereas the bulk of our sample is employed in the private sector (Bangladesh Parliament 2012, 2013). Hence we impose no age ceiling.

  3. Jellal et al. (2008) had used 40 replications for a random sample of 34,303 observations, while Siddiquee and Hossain (2018) used 20 replications for 10,757 observations. In addition, results without resorting to bootstrapping did not differ in our case, owing to the large sample size.

  4. Working-age population is defined here as those aged 15 and older, i.e. above the legal working age (BBS 2018).

  5. See, for instance, Badel and Peña (2010), Olvera (2017) and Sharma et al. (2013) among others who had applied the Buchinsky method to correct selection in quantiles.

  6. The results have not been included here but are available upon request from the author.

  7. \(\%\Delta =\mathrm{ln}\left(x\right)-\mathrm{ln}\left(y\right)=100\left({e}^{\mathrm{ln}\left(x\right)}-{e}^{\mathrm{ln}\left(y\right)}\right).\)

  8. It is worth noting that the unregulated informal employment in Bangladesh constitutes 85.1% of those employed, and the figure stands at 91.8% and 82.1% for women and men respectively (BBS 2018).

  9. Not included but are available upon request from the author.


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The author is grateful to the honourable faculties of the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka for their thorough guidance throughout the construction of the paper, in particular Professor Selim Raihan, Professor Sayema Haque Bidisha and Professor Muhammad Shahadat Hossain Siddiquee. The author would also like to thank Mr Md. Al-Hasan, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), for his insightful comments on an early version of the paper. Usual disclaimers apply.


The author did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.

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Correspondence to Avinno Faruk.

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Faruk, A. Analysing the glass ceiling and sticky floor effects in Bangladesh: evidence, extent and elements. SN Bus Econ 1, 110 (2021).

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