Theses Doctoral

Gender Pay Equity and Women's Pay Improvement Trajectories in the U.S. Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Sectors

Zhao, Rong

This dissertation examines gender pay disparity and women’s and men’s pay increase trajectories in a comparative analysis of the U.S. nonprofit and for-profit sectors. First, using the U.S. Censuses from 1990 and 2000, and the American Community Survey 2010-2014 data, this dissertation examines the nonprofit/for-profit difference in gender pay equity in Chapter 4. Traditionally, researchers have examined gender pay disparity across all industries in the entire economy combined. My analysis, however, focuses on 15 human service industries because nonprofit organizations are usually concentrated in those fields only. This empirical chapter makes two contributions to the field: first, it offers a more apples-to-apples comparison between pay in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors than previous research; second, it captures the gender pay disparity at three points in time, thus reflecting the change over the past 20 years. My industry-specific results challenge two normative assumptions: first, that nonprofits pay their workers lower than for-profits; and second, the smaller gender pay disparity in the nonprofit sector is a result of nonprofit pay compression. Leveraging theories from economics, sociology, and organizational studies, this empirical chapter pinpoints factors, such as industrial competition for labor, institutional pressures, level of unionization, and organizational form, that lead to a difference – or lack thereof – in the level of gender pay disparity between the two sectors.
My second empirical chapter (Chapter 5) examines women’s and men’s pay increase trajectories in the nonprofit (NP) and for-profit (FP) sectors based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation 2008 panel data. This chapter traces the pay increases for four groups of workers: NP Stayers, FP Stayers, NP-FP Movers, and FP-NP Movers. The results show that there was selection in workers’ moving behaviors: NP-FP Movers tended to be those who were disadvantaged in the nonprofit sector, while FP-NP Movers tended to be those who were better off in the for-profit sector. The analysis does not find gender or sectoral difference in pay increase trajectories for workers who chose to stay in the same sector. This empirical chapter is the first attempt at tracing the pay trajectories of nonprofit and for-profit human service workers using longitudinal data.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Teitler, Julien O.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2018