Relational inequality: Gender earnings inequality in u.s. And japanese manufacturing plants in the early 1980s

Dustin Avent-Holt, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


We examine the relational model of inequality using samples of employeremployee matched data from manufacturing plants in the United States and Japan. We argue that gender is a salient status characteristic in both the United States and Japan, but because of differences in gender politics, wage inequality will vary more across U.S. workplaces than Japanese workplaces. We find this claim to be supported, and then we model this variation as a function of exploitation and opportunity hoarding processes. Women's exclusion from high-wage plants and gender-linked claims-making resources help to explain between and within plant wage variation in U.S. workplaces. In Japan, where gender distinctions were less locally contested, access to lifetime employment and gender differences in labor supply generate local gender wage gaps. This paper provides evidence on the utility of relational inequality theory and an empirical strategy to observe the exploitation and opportunity hoarding mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbersos068
Pages (from-to)157-180
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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