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Trends in the Australian Gender Wage Differential over the 1980s: Some Evidence on the Effectiveness of Legislative Reform

Michael P Kidd () and Xin Meng ()

Australian Economic Review, 1997, vol. 30, issue 1, 31-44

Abstract: The article examines the legislative reforms incorporating the Sex Discrimination Act and the Affirmative Action Act introduced during the 1980s. We utilise the Australian Bureau of Statistics Income Distribution Surveys 1981–82 and 1989–90 to reflect pre‐ and post‐legislative reform. The article adopts the Brown, Moon and Zoloth (1980) methodology which treats both the wage and occupational status of the individual as endogenously determined. In the current context this is a particularly flexible framework allowing one to capture both the direct and indirect effects of the legislative reforms. The indirect effect refers to the narrowing of the gender wage gap associated with legislative manipulation of the male‐female occupational distributions. The results contrast the slow convergence in the gender wage gap during the 1980s with the much faster pace of the 1970s. The article concludes that despite the focus of the 1980s legislation on employment equity, changes in the male‐female occupational distribution over the period are small and the associated impact on gender wage convergence is also small.

Date: 1997
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