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Gender Differences in Fairness Evaluations of Own Earnings in 28 European Countries

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Jule Adriaans, Matteo Targa

In: European Societies 25 (2023), 1, S. 107-131


Women tend to evaluate their own pay more favorably than men. Contented women are speculated to not seek higher wages, thus the ‘paradox of the contented female worker’ may contribute to persistent gender pay differences. We extend the literature on gender differences in pay evaluations by investigating fairness evaluations of own earnings and underlying conceptions of fair earnings, providing a closer link to potential subsequent wage demands than previous literature. Using European Social Survey (2018/2019) data, we find no evidence that women evaluate their own earnings more favorably than men. In 15 out of the 28 analyzed countries, women actually report more intense levels of perceived unfairness. Studying fair markups on unfair earnings, i.e. the relative distance between the earnings received and earnings considered fair, we find that women report the same, if not lower, fair markups compared to men in most countries; thus indicating limited potential for perceived unfairness as a driving force to reduce the gender pay gap in Europe.

Keywords: Gender, fairness of earnings, cross-country analysis, European Social Survey