Barbara Broadway - Probing the effects of the Australian system of minimum wages on the gender wage gap

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Title:  Probing the effects of the Australian system of minimum wages on the gender wage gap

Abstract: When wage setting is more regulated, the gender wage gap tends to decrease. We examine whether this holds for a complex system of occupation- and industry-specific minimum wages, which cover both low-pay and high-pay segments of the labour market. The system has the potential to close the gender wage gap by ensuring equal minimum pay for equal jobs, or to widen it by discriminating against jobs more commonly held by women. We carefully describe wage levels as well as returns to experience and their association with individual gender as well as the male employment share in the individual’s field (industry or occupation) of work. We find that, among employees receiving a minimum wage, while women have lower wages and lower returns to experience than men, there is no penalty for being employed in a female-dominated field. Our results suggest that the regulated setting of minimum wages helps to close the gender wage gap and counteracts the undervaluation of work typically undertaken by women that is evident in the overall labour market.

Presenter: Dr Barbara Broadway, Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute, The University of Melbourne

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