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Explaining the Gender Wage Gap (WAGEGAP)

Research project TA/00/29 (Research action TA)


Persons :

  • Prof. dr.  SELS Luc - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven)
    Coordinator of the project
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/12/2007-15/5/2011
  • Dhr.  VANDENBRANDE Tom - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven)
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/12/2007-15/5/2011

Description :

This project aims at both enlarging knowledge of wage differences between men and women and developing more in depth analyses. We can split up this mission in three goals:

1. Describing (the determinants of) the wage difference: we will measure all elements of the conceptual scheme, i.c. women’s wages compared with men’s and the explaining factors of this ratio. The present state of every variable will be described, we will make comparisons (e.g. between economic sectors) and plot out the evolution.

2. Explaining the wage gap: we will make use of decomposition methods in an attempt to explain the wage gap with the variables elaborated in the first step. Factors of individual choice, unequal treatment and gender differences in opportunity structure and their relation will be evaluated.

3. Comparing international findings on the gender wage gap and the total remuneration gap (e.g. including non wage benefits).

4. Comparing the gender wage gap with the total remuneration gap.


This study mainly consists of quantitative analyses. After summarizing the scientific knowledge in the field, we will make an empirical analysis of the gender wage gap and focus on the effects of the explaining factors found in multivariate regression analyses and decomposition analyses. Finally, we will compare international findings on the gender wage gap.

The project will follow these steps:

1. Developing a conceptual scheme based on present theoretical views.

2. Screening the available data on the gender wage gap (both administrative sources, samples and specific data collection on the subject), as well as some descriptive analyses of women’s wages as opposed to men’s, based on the most appropriate data.

3. Using decomposition methods, we will then search for explanations of the wage gap. The main goal is to explain as much as possible with the given variables (e.g. horizontal and vertical segregation). Finding the right determinants is important to get to a policy that will shrink the gender wage gap.

4. International benchmarking of the gender wage gap. The analyses in step 2 and 3 deal with the national level and thus only allow us to make (sub)regional comparisons. Using the Wage Indicator data, we will answer whether or not there’s a match with the situation in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Both the gender wage gap and the total remuneration gap will be the object of this study.

5. Enlarging the concept of “total remuneration” to “total rewards”, which also include non material aspects of return to the employee, such as feeling recognised at work or having a professional learning path. Are gender differences larger when viewed in this perspective? To deal with this question, we will use survey data on career development and labour conditions for men and women.


Documentation :

Pour une explication de l’écart salarial : synthèse    Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2011 (SP2389)
[To download

Naar een verklaring van de loonkloof : synthese    Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2011 (SP2390)
[To download

Explaining the Gender Wage Gap : summary    Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2011 (SP2391)
[To download

Naar een verklaring van de loonkloof : eindverslag  Vermandere, Caroline - Vandekerckhove, Sem -Vandenbrande, Tom ... et al  Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2012 (SP2444)
[To download

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