Academic Literature

Gender Gaps in Germany – Share of women rises most strongly in non-routine cognitive and manual occupations

The position of women in the labour market has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny for a number of decades, especially in the context of the gender wage gap, but also with respect to relatively low female labour market participation. While the gender wage gap has substantially fallen over time in many industrialised countries, it is still sizeable, particularly at the top of the wage distribution; and although the labour market participation of women has increased strongly in many industrialised countries during the last decades, there is evidence for Germany that women tend to work in jobs with worse working conditions and in atypical employment. Therefore, gender equality in the labour market is still far from being realized.

Technological progress, however, could improve the labour-market situation of women. For example, decreasing demand for routine tasks and increasing demand for non-routine cognitive and social tasks has contributed positively to a reduction of the gender wage gap. In addition, the probability for a woman to work in non-routine cognitive and high-paying jobs has increased more than the labour supply of high-skilled women, while the probability for a man to work in such a job has decreased in the US in recent decades. The increasing demand for non-routine cognitive and social tasks can be explained by their complementarity to technology. Women potentially benefit from this evolution more than men because of their comparative advantage in social tasks as found by the psychological and neuroscience literature.

We analyze if technological progress and the corresponding change in the occupational structure have improved the relative position of women in the labour market. We show that the share of women rises most strongly in non-routine cognitive and manual occupations, but declines in routine occupations. While the share of women also rises relatively strongly in high-paying occupations, womens’ individual-level wages lag behind which implies within-occupation gender wage gaps. A decomposition exercise shows that composition effects with respect to both individual and job characteristics can explain the rise of female shares in the top tier of the labour market to an extent. However, the unexplained part of the decomposition is sizeable, indicating that developments such as technological progress are relevant.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Technological progress, occupational structure and gender gaps in the German labour market | VOCEDplus, the international tertiary education and research database


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