← ESA 2015 homepage



Wed 26. 8.  16:00 - 17:30
room FA 548

‘Equal pay for work of equal value’ – The impact of women’s movements and unions for institutionalizing equal pay laws in OECD countries


Laux, Thomas
Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany

Equal pay for women is one of the main issues for ensuring gender equality in modern societies. Nonetheless, gender pay gaps still exist in all OECD countries. Equal pay laws are an important measure for promoting gender equality within the labour market and for ensuring equal pay. Furthermore, equal pay laws are part of the economic citizenship of women. Equal pay laws are institutionalized in all OECD countries, but there are significant differences in their strength and scope. For example, one has to distinguish between ‘equal pay for equal work’ and ‘equal pay for work of equal value’. Based on this, the study inquires the relevant conditions for strong equal pay laws. The focus is on the impact of the civil sphere (Jeffrey Alexander) and world-polity (John Meyer) for institutionalizing equal pay laws. The analysis is conducted by applying a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), which combines a comparative and a case-oriented approach. It shows that two solution terms are sufficient for the institutionalization of strong equal pay laws: a strong women’s movement in combination with weak unions and strong unions in combination with an overall support for gender equality within society. The solutions of the comparative analysis are exemplified by two case studies (UK and Denmark).