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From Gender Gaps in Skills to Gender Gaps in Wages: Evidence from the PIAAC

This paper makes the first attempt using a cross-national perspective to address the impact of skills in the analysis of gender gaps in labor market performance. To that end we use the PIAAC dataset, which contains information on OECD and non OECD economies. Firstly, we document that there are gender gaps in cognitive skills for numeracy, which are found to be around 3-4% and to increase with age. Next, we show that gender gaps in math skills are crucial to understanding a substantial proportion of the gender gaps observed in labor market outcomes. In particular, the higher math skills exhibited by males explain 45% of the gender gap in labor force participation for young workers and 29% for workers aged 30-39. Finally, gender differences in math skills help to explain 40% of the gender wage gap observed. That impact increases from entry age to 30-39 (motherhood age), as we find that math skills explain 44% of the gender wage gap observed for young workers and as much as 55% for workers aged 30-39.