Sweden: Gender pay gap wider among high earners

A report about the effects of parental leave on wage development shows that the gender wage gap is wider among employees with high salaries than among employees with low or average salaries.

The recently published report, by the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Evaluation Policy (IFAU),  shows that although the gender wage gap has decreased since 1998, the gap is still greater in Scandinavian countries (in Swedish, 779 KB PDF) than other European countries. The gender wage gap is particularly marked among white-collar workers and  less among blue-collar workers.

The report also indicates a negative correlation between parental leave and salary for white-collar workers, especially among the top 10% of earners. This negative correlation is stronger for men than for women. Furthermore, women who take sporadic days of parental leave over longer periods of time have a poorer wage development than women who take leave concentrated over a shorter period of time.

In an IFAU press release, the report’s authors argue that this is because the group who take leave concentrated in a short period of time make clear their commitment and career aspirations (in Swedish).  It adds that this could also imply that the depreciation of human capital is more limited in these instances. Men who take many days of parental leave could be perceived by employers as prioritising family life over work and this might affect their wage development. This is unlikely to be the case for women, say the authors, as many employers assume that  women will be inclined to take many days of parental leave, which is often the case. The amount of parental leave women take will not be interpreted in the same way as reflecting their career aspirations.


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