ILO Research Department Seminar

The partner Pay Gap

Despite women's recent gains in education and employment, husbands still tend to out-earn their wives. This article examines the relationship between the partner pay gap, i.e. the difference in earned income between married, co-resident partners, and life satisfaction. Contrary to previous studies, we investigate the effects of recent changes in relative earnings within couples as well as labour market transitions. Using seven waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we reveal that men exhibit an increase in life satisfaction in response to a recent increase in their proportional earnings while women, after accounting for employment changes, exhibit a decrease in life satisfaction. We also find secondary-earning husbands report lower average life satisfaction than primary-earning men, while such differences were not found for women. The analysis offers compelling evidence of the role of gendered norms in the sustenance of the partner pay gap.

Vanessa Gash is a quantitative social scientist and Deputy Head of Department of Sociology, at City University London. She has specialised in comparative labour market research and has expertise in both panel and cross-national data structures.

Her work focuses on sex differences in employment and she has recently published research on: the gender pay gap, household earning and caring strategies and well-being. She has a PhD from Oxford University, and has held appointments at the University of Manchester, in both the Departments of Sociology and Social Statistics and at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, in Berlin. She began her career as a quantitative labour market researcher at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin where she currently holds Research Affiliate status.