Gender Wage Gap Accounting: The Role of Selection Bias

Michael Bar, Seik Kim, Oksana Leukhina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mulligan and Rubinstein (2008) (MR) argued that changing selection of working females on unobservable characteristics, from negative in the 1970s to positive in the 1990s, accounted for nearly the entire closing of the gender wage gap. We argue that their female wage equation estimates are inconsistent. Correcting this error substantially weakens the role of the rising selection bias (39 % versus 78 %) and strengthens the contribution of declining discrimination (42 % versus 7 %). Our findings resonate better with related literature. We also explain why our finding of positive selection in the 1970s provides additional support for MR’s main hypothesis that an exogenous rise in the market value of unobservable characteristics contributed to the closing of the gender gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1729-1750
Number of pages22
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Population Association of America.


  • Female labor force participation
  • Gender wage gap
  • Rising inequality
  • Selection bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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