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The Gender Gap in Meaningful Work

Vanessa C. Burbano (), Olle Folke, Stephan Meier and Johanna Rickne
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Vanessa C. Burbano: Columbia Business School

No 6/2023, Working Paper Series from Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research

Abstract: An understanding of differences in non-monetary work conditions is fundamental for a complete characterization of individuals’ well-being at work. Thus, to fully characterize gender inequalities in the labor market, scholars have begun to explore gender differences in non-monetary work conditions. We examine one such condition — meaningful work — using nationally representative survey data linked with worker and employer administrative data. We document a large and expanding gender gap in meaningful work, wherein women experience their jobs as more meaningful than men do. We then explore patterns underlying this difference. We find little correlation between women’s higher experience of meaningful work and either labor market decisions related to first parenthood or women’s under-representation in leadership jobs. Instead, the gender gap appears to be highly correlated with the sorting of more women into occupations with a high level of beneficence — the sense of having a prosocial impact. While both women and men experience such jobs as more meaningful, women do so by a larger margin. Next, we consider the relationship between the gender difference in meaningful work and the gender wage gap, contributing to the discussion on compensating differentials in work amenities. We find that while the gender gap in meaningful work closes a substantial part of the wage gap in lower-paid jobs, it does little to close the gap in higher-paid jobs where the gender wage gap is largest.

Keywords: meaningful work; non-monetary work conditions; occupational segregation; work conditions; gender (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J16 J24 J31 J32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 63 pages
Date: 2023-11-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem
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