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Decomposing the Gender Wage Gap with Sample Selection Adjustment: Evidence from Colombia

Despite the remarkable improvement of female labor market characteristics, a sizeable gender wage gap exists in Colombia. We employ quantile regression techniques to examine the degree to which current small differences in the distribution of observable characteristics can explain the gender gap. We find that the gap is largely explained by gender differences in the rewards to labor market characteristics and not by differences in the distribution of characteristics. We claim that Colombian women experience both a “glass ceiling effect’’ and also (what we call) a “quicksand floor effect” because gender differences in returns to characteristics primarily affect women at the top and the bottom of the distribution. Also, self selection into the labor force is crucial for gender gaps: if all women participated in the labor force, the observed gap would be roughly 50% larger at all quantiles.

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