No. 8 Gender Earnings Differentials: The European Experience
By Patricia Rice

This paper is concerned with the factors that shape earnings differentials between men and women in industrialised economies, and in particular, on the impact of policies designed to promote equal opportunity and equal treatment of men and women. These issues are examined empirically for a group of European economies: a number of European Union member states, together with Hungary, a prospective EU member. As members of the European Union, countries share a common legislative framework relating to equal pay and equal opportunities, but in other respects, most notably in the provision of benefits and services for families, the countries display considerable diversity. Given this, we are able to identify more clearly the impact of social policies and institutions, as distinct from direct legislation, on earnings differentials between men and women. The effects of such policies are expected to vary with earnings levels, and so in this study we examine gender earnings differentials across the earnings distribution rather than focusing on a single point, e.g. the mean.

This paper is part of a series of papers on selected topics commissioned for the forthcoming Policy Research Report (PRR) on Gender and Development. The PRR is being carried out by Elizabeth King and Andrew Mason and co-sponsored by the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group and the Gender and Development Group of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network. Printed copies of this paper are available free from the World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433. Please contact Owen Haaga, in room MC8-434 or at . Comments are welcome and should be sent directly to the author(s) at .

The full-length paper is available in PDF format.