Is the pay of medical specialists in New Zealand gender biased?

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Despite union rules,    
doctors’ gender pay gap still    
stark. No clear reason.   


We use individual-level data from the 2013 New Zealand Census combined with administrative income data from the tax system to estimate the gender gap in hourly pay for the population of medical specialists employed in the New Zealand public health system.


Unionisation of these doctors is 90 percent, and their union’s MECA specifies their pay rates, which should limit the opportunities for a gender pay gap to arise. Nevertheless, we find that in their public health system employment female specialists earn an average of 12.5 percent less than their male counterparts of the same age, with the same specialty, and who work the same number of hours each week.


This wage gap is larger for older ages, among those who work fewer hours each week, and for parents. Controlling for gender differences in experience at the same age decreases the estimated gender wage gap by no more than 20 percent. Our findings are consistent with male medical specialists being placed on higher salary steps than equally experienced female specialists, or males disproportionately receiving additional payments beyond the MECA minimum.




Association of Salaried Medical Specialists