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Gender in the labour market

With the enormous expansion of the service sector and the marketisation of home production have come enormous improvements in women's labour market position and wages since the 1970s.

Despite this improvement over the past few decades, a sizable disparity of pay and employment still remain: across the UK economy women are, on average, paid nearly 20 per cent less per hour than men. This gap is the fourth largest in Europe and has changed little in the last decade.

And in countries which did not witness structural transformation away from goods to services production, women's labour market position has remained dismal.

Causes explored are of two sorts: constraints preventing a decrease of the gap on the one hand and women's preferences on the other.

The constraints include bias against hiring women in some higher-paying jobs; career breaks for childbirth and childrearing affecting women's promotion prospects or appointment to higher-paying full-time jobs which childcare policies only partially mitigate.

The other evidence discussed suggests a greater preference by women for jobs which give them more satisfaction which could prevent them from entering higher paid male-dominated professions. We also review experiments considering whether women's perceived different preferences for negotiating, competitiveness and risk taking contribute to the wage gap.

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