How and Why Religion Influences the Gender Wage Gap
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Eighty-two days into this year, or March 24, 2021, working women finally earned what their male counterparts did in 2020. Yes, that means, women are paid 82 cents for every
There are many factors as to why the gap persists. One that’s been overlooked?
In a study published in the Academy of Management Journal, the researchers found that how religious a community affects the size of the gender wage gap. This is partly explained by the fact that each of the world’s major religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Folk, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism—promote
“It’s not that one religion is better or worse, with respect to the gender wage gap,” says Campbell, also a Lawrence Fellow. “It’s just whether religion is crucial to people’s day-to-day.”
Campbell and Sitzmann, who earned the 2021 Responsible Research in Management Award, studied the gender wage gap in all 50 U.S. states and 140 countries, finding that:
- In nations where 95% or more of the population reported religion as an important part of their daily lives (e.g., Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka), women earn only 46 percent of what men do.
- In nations where 20 percent or less of the population indicated the importance of religion (e.g., Estonia, Sweden, and Denmark), women earn 75 percent of men’s wages.
The United States is 101st among the countries for its religiosity and 90th for the size of its gender wage gap. Campbell and Sitzmann then compared the wage gap in each U.S. state to its religious attendance. “We found that in less-religious states, the wage gap decreased faster than in more-religious states,” explains Campbell. In the paper, Campbell and Sitzmann estimate the wage gap will close in 28 years in secular states, but
A telling example is the state of Utah. Sixty percent of residents there are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s also home to one of the largest wage gaps in the U.S.
In a separate analysis for the Salt Lake Tribune, Campbell found that the wage gap is closing fastest in Connecticut, New Mexico, Delaware, Michigan, and Oregon. The slowest movers are Louisiana, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama. In an interview with the paper she noted that “the fastest five are narrowing the gender wage gap more than 12 times faster than the slowest five, on average.”
“You can still have religious norms and faith as part of the culture,” says Campbell. “But you need to
This article appeared in the Summer 2021 Discovery magazine
In this issue, Carlson School faculty research studies the wisdom of the crowds, the role of religion in the gender wage gap, the impact of cash injections, and highlights many others areas where our research has had an important impact.