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April 1982, Vol. 105, No. 4
Tenure as a factor in the
male-female earnings gap
Nancy F. Rytina
While numerous studies have attempted to account for the male-female earnings differential, results generally show that a substantial portion of the disparity remains after controlling for sex differences in education, job experience, and other factors affecting productivity. Among the reasons cited for the inability to explain more of the differential are inadequate data and other problems in measuring the variables selected for analysis.
One controversial measurement issue pertains to the effects of work experience on pay. The fact that women average fewer years in the work force than men is considered by many researchers to be an important factor in the wage gap between the sexes. However, reliable measures of work experience are not often available. The Current Population Survey (CPS)the principal source of demographically oriented earnings datadoes not elicit information from individuals regarding the number of years they have worked, the various jobs they have held, or the amount of time they held those jobs. Although questions on job tenure have been asked at least every 5 years as part of special CPS supplements, these questions have traditionally referred only to the length of tenure in one's current job. They have provided no information on the total number of years spent in the labor force or in one's current occupation.
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