Women, work, and wages: How family policies continue to shape the gender wage gap
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Despite a dramatic convergence in the gender wage gap at the end of the 20th century, there has been a puzzling stability ever since. The thesis addresses this puzzling development by asking: How do family policies intended to help balance work and family obligations affect the gender wage gap, and are the effects different across the wage distribution? To answer the research question, I use a large-N quantitative approach with time-series cross-sectional data from 23 member countries of the OECD from 1990 to 2018. Building on the conceptual debate discussing the disaggregation of the concept of family policy, I first separate the effects of policies enabling defamilisation, i.e., facilitating work, from the effects of policies enabling familisation, i.e., reducing work. I expected the former to reduce the gender wage gap, while the latter to increase it and find support for the first expectation and thereby also for the disaggregation of the concept. Furthermore, I build on the literature on the glass ceiling effect and expected the effects of the family policy dimensions to affect women differently depending on their placement in the wage distribution. I find that familisation positively and defamilisation negatively affects the gender wage gap for top earners, but I do not find any effect on the gender wage gap for bottom earners. I conclude that by focusing only on the average trends, may it be family policies or wage gaps, we lose out on important information on what drives the gender wage gap.