Why does the gender pay gap vary across areas within Wales?

This project will provide a comprehensive contemporary understanding of the determinants of gender inequality across local labour markets.


This PhD is in collaboration with Chwarae Teg who provides highly respected advice on policy affecting gender equality and the contribution of women to the economy, particularly within Wales. Through this partnership, the PhD student will gain a unique experience of developing evidence-based government policy and employer practice. As such, the successful candidate will have an opportunity to disseminate the findings from their research to policymakers and to receive training in external engagement and developing impact from their research.

In 2015, the Prime Minister David Cameron set out to “end the gender pay gap (GPG) in a generation” through proactive policy, including the requirement for firms to publish their GPG, which has raised its profile in the media and among business. Tackling the GPG has also been a priority for the Welsh Government and this PhD will provide timely evidence to enhance understanding of regional differences in the GPG.

The aim is motivated by recent evidence of substantial regional and intra-regional variation in the GPG. Within Wales, the full-time GPG varies across unitary authorities, being lowest in Gwynedd (-15%) and highest in Bridgend (18%). This sign reversal, whereby women in some local areas are paid more than men on average has attracted attention but has yet to receive in-depth analysis. This PhD aims to fill this evidence gap.

Project methods and aims

The proposal builds on international research which explores differences in the GPG across countries (Blau and Kahn, 2003; 2006) and UK based analysis (Manning and Swaffield, 2008; Jones et al., 2018). It will complement this by investigating regional variation in the GPG and explore the extent to which this is explained by factors such as occupational and industrial mix.

It will also extend beyond the GPG to comprehensively explore spatial variation in labour market inequality, including access to, and the nature of, work. It will thus provide a comprehensive contemporary understanding of the determinants of gender inequality across local labour markets.

Possible research questions include:

  • How does the GPG vary across UK regions and within Wales? What explains the differences, in particular, do women hold different characteristics to men or is there variation in the treatment of women across areas?
  • To what extent do other indicators of inequality in labour market performance, such as labour force participation or hours of work, exhibit regional variation?
  • What explains the gender differences across labour markets? How important are the characteristics of areas as opposed to individuals?

It is intended that the PhD will be based around advanced quantitative methods, particularly the econometric analysis of large scale representative micro-data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and the Annual Population Survey. These data are available through the UK Data Archive, with detailed spatial information accessed via the Secure Data Service.

The analysis will initially be based on established regression and decomposition methodologies (e.g. Oaxaca, 1973; Juhn et al., 1991) applied at a finer spatial disaggregation and include analysis of local area characteristics.


Melanie Jones

Professor Melanie Jones

Professor of Economics, Deputy Section Head - Research, Innovation and Engagement

029 2087 5079
Ezgi Kaya

Dr Ezgi Kaya

Lecturer in Economics

029 2087 0757

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the programme.

View programme

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