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CEP discussion paper

The evolution of gender gaps in industrialized countries


Women in developed economies have made major inroads in labor markets throughout the past century, but remaining gender differences in pay and employment seem remarkably persistent. This paper documents long-run trends in female employment, working hours and relative wages for a wide cross-section of developed economies. It reviews existing work on the factors driving gender convergence, and novel perspectives on remaining gender gaps. The paper finally emphasizes the interplay between gender trends and the evolution of the industry structure. Based on a shift-share decomposition, it shows that the growth in the service share can explain at least half of the overall variation in female hours, both over time and across countries.


Claudia Olivetti and Barbara Petrongolo

24 February 2016     Paper Number CEPDP1410

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.