Case study

Investigating the driving forces behind low pay and the gender pay gap

Our research conducted with the Low Pay Commission has made a new contribution to the understanding of wage inequality in the UK.

The issue

Low pay, and the way out of low pay, is a complex issue; tackling it effectively requires a consistent set of detailed policies and actions.

Related to the issue of low pay is the gender pay gap. In many societies, achieving pay equality for men and women is an important goal. But reducing the gender pay gap requires concerted effort in many areas of society, including employers supported by appropriate government policy.

The research

Researchers at York looked at what governments can do to tackle low pay with a particular emphasis on the gender dimension of low pay.

They also investigated how employers - including businesses as well as public sector entities - can adjust their practices to offer a way out of poverty for low-income employees.

Their research showed that gender pay gaps are higher in female-dominated workplaces and occupations in low paying sectors of the economy, and that this is especially true for part-time employees. This association between the workplace, occupational segregation, and the gender pay gap was a new contribution to the understanding of wage inequality in the UK.

The research concluded that reducing the overall wage disparity between men and women, for part-time as well as full-time employees, requires complementary policies addressing occupational segregation both within and across workplaces.

The outcome

This research was used by the Low Pay Commission to inform their autumn 2016 recommendations on the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates.

Featured researcher
Karen Mumford

Karen Mumford

Professor Mumford's expertise is labour economics. Her research topics include: wage bargaining, industrial disputation, employment dynamics, the relative labour market position of women and job satisfaction. She was appointed CBE for services to Economics and Labour Market Diversity in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List.

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Featured researcher
Peter Smith

Peter Smith

Professor Smith is Professor of Economics and Finance. He is engaged in research in areas of financial economics, macro economics and labour economics.

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