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Gender, Occupational Prestige, and Wages: A Test of Devaluation Theory
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
2009 (English)In: European Sociological Review, ISSN 0266-7215, Vol. 25, no 1, 87-101 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Devaluation theory's basic assumption is that women are culturally devalued in society. As a consequence, female occupations and tasks are assumed to be less valued than are male tasks. Previous empirical research has found that the proportion females in an occupation has a net negative effect on wages. Less documented, however, is the relation between occupational sex composition and occupational prestige. By analysing whether the female share of an occupation or feminine work is negatively associated with occupational prestige, devaluation theory may be more directly tested than when using wages as the outcome variable. In addition, the article examines whether differences in occupational prestige account for part of the wage effect of sex composition, and whether women, relative to men, receive lower wage rewards for attained prestige. Analyses on Swedish data show that the association between the proportion females in an occupation and occupational prestige is non-linear. Mixed occupations (41–60 per cent female) have the highest prestige. Further, work generally done by women—care work—does not have lower prestige in society than other tasks. These findings do not support devaluation theory. The analysis also shows that women receive lower wage returns than do men to attained occupational prestige.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 25, no 1, 87-101 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-18403DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcn035ISI: 000262719400007OAI: diva2:184926
Available from: 2009-01-26 Created: 2009-01-26 Last updated: 2010-11-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Mind the Gap: Essays on Explanations of Gender Wage Inequality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mind the Gap: Essays on Explanations of Gender Wage Inequality
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The gender wage gap is accounted for to a substantial degree by the sex composition of occupations. The present thesis examines the mechanisms that produce this pattern. In particular, the theory of devaluation, currently the most widely accepted sociological explanation, is tested. The empirical findings, reported in three self-contained essays, question this line of explanation. All results are based on Swedish data: the Level of Living surveys (LNU; essays I and II) and administrative labour market registers (essay III).

In Essay I the association between occupational prestige and occupational sex composition is examined. The association is non-linear, with gender mixed occupations having the highest prestige. Further, care work does not have lower prestige than other kinds of work. These results are inconsistent with expectations derived from devaluation theory. The analysis also shows that the wage returns to occupational prestige are lower for women than for men.

Essay II examines why women receive relatively low returns to prestige. Family related factors are shown to be crucial. The gender difference in pay-off to prestige is thus marked among married/cohabiting employees with children but insignificant among singles as well as among childless married/cohabiting women and men. The gender wage gap in high-prestige occupations is largely due to differences between women and men in work characteristics difficult to reconcile with family duties.

In essay III the functional form of the relation between wages and occupational sex composition is investigated. In the cross-section gender mixed occupations have the highest wages. Panel data tend to confirm this pattern: mobility from strongly male or female dominated occupations to more gender mixed occupations is associated with relatively high rates of wage growth. Further, there is a wage premium for care work but a wage penalty for other service work. These findings do not support devaluation theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, 2010. 45 p.
, Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 78
Gender wage gap, labour market, occupational prestige, devaluation theory, work-family balance, Sweden
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urn:nbn:se:su:diva-34058 (URN)978-91-7155-992-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-02-19, hörsal 7, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. 3: Accepted.

Available from: 2010-01-28 Created: 2010-01-04 Last updated: 2013-08-06Bibliographically approved

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