How the 1963 Equal Pay Act and 1964 Civil Rights Act Shaped the Gender Gap in Pay

Research on Monday Seminar

Martha Bailey

Monday 26 Sep 2022, 11:30 - 12:30
Polak Building
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In the 1960s, two landmark statutes—the Equal Pay and Civil Rights Acts—targeted the long-standing practice of employment discrimination against U.S. women.

(joint with Thomas Helgerman and Bryan Stuart)

In their aftermath, the gender gap in median earnings among full-time, full-year workers remained stable for 15 years, leading many scholars to conclude the legislation was ineffectual.

This paper revisits this conclusion using variation in legislative incidence across states and occupation-industry-state job classifications.

We find that women’s wages grew by 4-12 percent more on average in places or jobs where the legislation was more binding, with the effects concentrated among the lowest-wage employees.

We find no evidence of short-term changes in employment but some suggestive evidence that firms reduced their hiring of women in the long-term.


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