Paradox lost: disappearing female job satisfaction

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



Lancaster University Management School Economics Working Paper Series


Publication date

February 15, 2016


The greater job satisfaction reported by female workers represents a puzzle given, on average, their worse labour market outcomes. Using the original data source of Clark (1997), we show that over the last two decades the female satisfaction gap has largely vanished. This reflects a strong secular decline in female job satisfaction. This decline happened for younger women in the 1990s as they aged and because of new female workers in more recent years that have lower job satisfaction than their early 1990s peers. Decompositions make clear that the decline does not reflect deteriorating job characteristics for women but rather their increasingly harsh evaluation of jobs characteristics. These findings fit with the suggestion that women in the early 1990s had a gap between their labour market expectations and actual experience that has since closed and that the gender satisfaction gap has vanished as a consequence.



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