Gender Disparities in Top Earnings: Measurement and Facts for Denmark 1980-2013

Niels-Jakob Harbo Hansen, Karl Harmenberg, Erik Öberg*, Hans Henrik Sievertsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Extending the work of Atkinson et al. (J. Econ. Inequal. 16, 225–256, 2018), we decompose top-earnings gender disparities into a glass-ceiling coefficient and a top-earnings gender gap. The decomposition uses that both male and female top earnings are Pareto distributed. If interpreting top-earnings gender disparities as caused by a female-specific earnings tax, the top-earnings gender gap and glass-ceiling coefficient measure the tax level and tax progressivity, respectively. Using Danish data on earnings, we show that the top-earnings gender gap and the glass-ceiling coefficient evolve differently across time, the life cycle, and educational groups. In particular, while the top-earnings gender gap has been decreasing in Denmark over the period 1980-2013, the glass-ceiling coefficient has been remarkably stable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Economic Inequality
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)347-362
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Decomposition
  • Gender gap
  • Glass ceiling
  • Summary statistics

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