NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway

Marianne Bertrand, Sandra E. Black, Sissel Jensen, Adriana Lleras-Muney

NBER Working Paper No. 20256
Issued in June 2014, Revised in July 2017
NBER Program(s):   LS

In late 2003, Norway passed a law mandating 40 percent representation of each gender on the board of public limited liability companies. The primary objective of this reform was to increase the representation of women in top positions in the corporate sector and decrease the gender disparity in earnings within that sector. We document that the women appointed to these boards post-reform were observably more qualified than their female predecessors along many dimensions, and that the gender gap in earnings within boards fell substantially. On the other hand, we see no robust evidence that the reform benefited the larger set of women employed in the companies subject to the quota. Moreover, the reform had no clear impact on highly qualified women whose qualifications mirror those of board members but who were not appointed to boards. Finally, we find mixed support for the view that the reform affected the decisions of young women: while the reform was not accompanied by any change in female enrollment in business education programs, we do see some improvements in labor market outcomes for young women with graduate business degrees in their early career stages; however, we observe similar improvements for young women with graduate science degrees, suggesting this may not be due to the reform. Overall, seven years after the board quota policy fully came into effect, we conclude that it had very little discernible impact on women in business beyond its direct effect on the women who made it into boardrooms.

download in pdf format
   (1448 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the November 2014 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20256

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Devereux and Yetman w20252 Globalisation, Pass-through and the Optimal Policy Response to Exchange Rates
Carlin, Jiang, and Spiller w20268 Learning Millennial-Style
Bouton, Conconi, Pino, and Zanardi w20253 Guns and Votes
Bordo, Choudhri, Fazio, and MacDonald w20228 The Real Exchange Rate in the Long Run: Balassa-Samuelson Effects Reconsidered
Dang, Gorton, Holmstrom, and Ordoñez w20255 Banks as Secret Keepers
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us