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Abstract:

CEP discussion paper
Wage responses to gender pay gap reporting requirements
Jack Blundell
March 2021
Paper No' CEPDP1750:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J31; J38; J33; J71; J78; J16; D82; D83


Tags: gender pay gap; gender pay gap reporting; transparency; discrimination; information; public policy

In this paper I study a policy in which employers are required to publicly report gender pay gap statistics. Proponents argue that increasing the information available to workers and consumers places pressure on firms to close pay gaps, but opponents argue that such policies are poorly targeted and ineffective. This paper contributes to the debate by analyzing the UK’s recent reporting policy, in which employers are mandated to publicly report simple measures of their gender pay gap each year. Exploiting a discontinuous size threshold in the policy’s coverage, I apply a difference-in-difference strategy to linked employer-employee payroll data. I find that the introduction of reporting requirements led to a 1.6 percentage-point narrowing of the gender pay gap at affected employers. This large-magnitude effect is primarily due to a decline in male wages within affected employers, and is not caused by a change in the composition of the workforce. To explain this effect, I propose that a worker preference against high pay gap employers induces the closing of pay gaps upon information revelation. Newly-gathered survey evidence shows that female workers in particular exhibit a significant preference for low pay gap employers. In a hypothetical choice experiment, over half of women accept a 2.5% lower salary to avoid a high pay gap employer. I also demonstrate substantial heterogeneity in the interpretation of pay gap statistics across workers, and show that this affects their valuation of jobs at employers with different pay gaps.