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Peer Salaries and Gender Differences in Job Satisfaction in the Workplace


  • Karen Mumford,

    1. University of York, IZA, Institute for the Study of Labour
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  • Peter N. Smith

    1. University of York
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    • The authors acknowledge the Department of Trade and Industry, the Advisory, Arbitration and Conciliation Service, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Policy Studies Institute as the originators of the Workplace Employment Relations Survey 2004 (WERS 2004) version 2 data.


A substantial and persistent earnings gap exists between male and female employees in Britain. Despite this gap, British women typically report higher levels of job satisfaction than men. We consider this apparent contradiction by asking whether the higher job satisfaction reported by female employees is associated with their being less concerned by the level of co-worker wages. We explore the relationship between reported job satisfaction and own, relative and comparison-group wage; allowing for asymmetry in responses across genders. We find that choice of relevant comparison group is affected by gender; men display behaviour characteristic of competitiveness while women do not.