On Using Pareto Distributions for Measuring Top-Income Gender Disparities

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

Research output: Working paperResearch

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Atkinson et al. (2018) propose a measure of the glass ceiling exploiting that top incomes are approximately Pareto distributed. We clarify how this glass-ceiling coefficient describes the increasing scarcity of women further up in the income distribution and show how it relates to the top-income gender gap. If interpreting top income gender differences as caused by a female-specific income tax, the gender gap and glass ceiling coefficient measure its level and progressivity, respectively. Using Danish data on earnings, we show that the top gender gap and the glass-ceiling coefficient evolves across time, the life cycle, and educational groups.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [wp]
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesWorking Paper / Department of Economics. Copenhagen Business School


  • Decomposition
  • Gender gap
  • Glass ceiling
  • Summary statistics

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