Why does the gender pay gap vary across areas within Wales?

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Cardiff Business School


Context and Rationale
In 2015, the Prime Minister David Cameron set out to "end the gender pay gap (GPG) in a generation" through proactive policy, including the requirement for firms to publish their GPG, which has raised its profile in the media and among business. Tackling the GPG has been a priority for the Welsh Government, including through the Economic Action Plan and Employability Plan and the recent Gender Equality Review. As such, this PhD will provide timely evidence to support new interventions to help achieve the Welsh Government aim of becoming a world leader in gender equality.

The aims are motivated by recent evidence of substantial regional and intra-regional variation in the GPG. Within Wales, the full-time GPG varies across unitary authorities, being lowest in Gwynedd (-15%) and highest in Bridgend (18%). This sign reversal, whereby women in some local areas are paid more than men on average has attracted attention but has yet to receive in-depth analysis. This proposal aims to fill this evidence gap.

The proposal builds on international research which explores differences in the GPG across countries (Blau and Kahn, 2003, 2006) and UK based analysis (Manning and Swaffield, 2008; Jones et al., 2018). It will complement this by investigating regional variation in the GPG and explore the extent to which this is explained by factors such as occupational and industrial mix. It will also extend beyond the GPG to comprehensively explore spatial variation in labour market inequality, including access to, and the nature of, work. It will thus provide a comprehensive contemporary understanding of gender inequality across local labour markets, aligned to the regional focus within the Welsh Government Economic Action Plan.

Possible research questions include:

1. How does the GPG vary across UK regions and within Wales? What explains the differences, in particular, do women hold different characteristics to men or is there variation in the treatment of women?
2. To what extent do other indicators of inequality in labour market performance, such as labour force participation or hours of work, exhibit regional variation?
3. What explains the gender differences across labour markets? How important are the characteristics of areas as opposed to individuals?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2272726 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Suzanna Nesom