Working Paper

The Wage Effect of Workplace Sexual Harassment: Evidence for Women in Europe

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Changes to deeply entrenched systems of unequal gender power dynamics, roles and relations, underpinned by patriarchal values, are part of an effective response to the prevention of sexual harassment and its economic consequences.

This article contributes to the literature on wage discrimination by examining the consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace on wages for women in Europe. We model the empirical relationship between sexual harassment risk and wages for European women employees using individual-level data provided by the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS, Eurostat). We find that sexual harassment risk has a negative and statistically significant effect on wages of -0.03% on average for women in Europe. However, our empirical analysis uncovers the importance of considering the dynamics of workplace power relations: analyzing individual-level data, we find evidence of a higher negative impact of sexual harassment risk on wages for women working in counter-stereotypical occupations.

We conclude that the wage effect of hostile working conditions, mainly in terms of sexual harassment risk in the workplace, should be considered and monitored as a first critical step in making women be less vulnerable at work and increasing their bargaining power, thereby reducing inequalities in working conditions and pay in Europe.