The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Women’s Wages

  • J. Rubery
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_1608

Abstract

Women’s average wages are consistently lower than men’s average wages in all countries, even after adjustments for differences in working hours. These lower wages cannot be simply explained by differences in the productivity of women workers, or by the segregation of women into different jobs: they are related to the role of women in the social reproduction sphere, that is to their expected contributions to domestic labour and to family income. However, women’s wages should not be identified as a separate issue; to do so suggests that it is women’s wages that do not conform to a competitive norm and therefore require separate analysis as an anomaly. Women form too large a segment of the labour force for this ‘anomaly’ not to affect the other segment, ‘male labour’, and men’s role in social reproduction has an equal and specific impact on their characteristics as wage labour. There is nevertheless an argument on social and political grounds for singling out women’s wages for special study. Women’s wages are not only low at the average or macro level, but also are consistently lower than men’s at the micro level of the occupation, firm or industry. Women account for overwhelmingly the largest share of low-paid adult workers in the UK, so that ten years after the Equal Pay Act it is still reasonable to talk of a separate set of wages for women to that available to the majority of men.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access

Bibliography

  1. Becker, G. 1971. The economics of discrimination, 2nd ed. Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beechey, V. 1978. Women and production: A critical analysis of some sociological theories of women’s work. In Feminism and materialism, ed. A. Kuhn and A.M. Wolpe, 155–197. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  3. Bergmann, B.R. 1971. The effect on white incomes of discrimination in employment. Journal of Political Economy 71(2): 294–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Craig, C., E. Garnsey, and J. Rubery. 1985. Payment structures in smaller firms: Women’s employment in segmented labour markets, Department of Employment Research Paper no. 48. London: Department of Employment.Google Scholar
  5. Doeringer, P., and M. Piore. 1971. Internal labour markets and manpower analysis. Lexington: D.C. Heath.Google Scholar
  6. Edwards, R., M. Reich, and D.M. Gordon (eds.). 1975. Labour market segmentation. Lexington: D.C. Heath.Google Scholar
  7. Hartman, H. 1979. The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism: Towards a more progressive union. Capital and Class 8: 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Humphries, J. 1977. Class struggle and the persistence of the working-class family. Cambridge Journal of Economics 1(3): 241–258.Google Scholar
  9. Humphries, J., and J. Rubery. 1984. The reconstitution of the supply-side of the labour market: The relative autonomy of social reproduction. Cambridge Journal of Economics 8(4): 331–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mill, J.S. 1848. Principles of political economy, 1st ed. London.Google Scholar
  11. Phelps, E.S. 1972. The statistical theory of racism and sexism. American Economic Review 62(4): 659–661.Google Scholar
  12. Spence, A.M. 1973. Job market signalling. Quarterly Journal of Economics 87(3): 355–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Tarling, R. 1981. The relationship between employment and output: Where does segmentation theory lead us? In The dynamics of labour market segmentation, ed. F. Wilkinson, 281–290. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. West, J. (ed.). 1982. Work, women and the labour market. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Rubery
    • 1
  1. 1.