Is Occupational Licensing More Beneficial for Women than for Men? The Case of Germany, 1993/2015


This article analyzes the relation of gender wage inequality to occupational licensing in Germany in 1993 and 2015. We show that the very particular German licensing system and strong gender segregation lead to an overrepresentation of women in licensed occupations. We further investigate, whether both genders benefit equally from licensing in terms of wages. Finally, we study whether both women’s overrepresentation and potential gender gaps within licensed occupations help to explain patterns in the overall gender wage gap. To this end, we distinguish licensed occupations in professions and semi-professions. We use 1993 and 2015 waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study to apply repeated cross-sectional regressions and decompositions. Our findings suggest that women benefited more from licensing in 1993 than in 2015. Men’s wage premiums seem to increase over time, but women’s premiums do not. We also show that semi-professions are less rewarding and women are overrepresented in these occupations. Finally, increased demand for licensed occupations is an important contribution to narrowing the gender wage gap. Women’s increased employment in licensed occupations alone would have reduced the overall gender wage gap by roughly 8 per cent.

European Sociological Review, jcz060