The case for comparable worth

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Traditional nondiscrimination efforts focus on women's access to jobs and on equal pay for the same work. Comparable worth adds a third strategy-policies that ensure that jobs do not pay less because they are filled by women. I review evidence of this discrimination. I describe job evaluation, which can be used to correct it, while preserving a large role for market forces. U.S. workers have no protection from this type of discrimination. I consider arguments raised against comparable worth. The claim that antidiscrimination policies are unnecessary because discrimination is eroded by competitive forces fails to recognize the sluggishness of this response. The argument that barriers to entry are the real problem ignores evidence that cultural devaluation affects wage-setting even absent hiring discrimination. Arguments about undesirable side effects apply with equal force to most regulation. I conclude that comparable worth deserves support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-755
Number of pages13
JournalQuarterly Review of Economics and Finance
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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