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Does Type of Degree Explain Taiwan’s Gender Gap?

  • Education
  • Political Science


Research in the U.S. shows that differences between the sexes in college major explain a substantial portion of the gender gap in wages, and that shifts toward a more equal sex composition in choice of major have led to a decrease in the gap. In this paper, I examine whether a similar phenomenon has occurred in Taiwan. From the 1960’s through the 1980’s, the government of Taiwan attempted to increase the proportion of vocational/technical degrees as a percentage of all degrees held by its citizens. Using data from Taiwan’s annual Manpower Utilization Survey, I find that the government was quite successful in encouraging people to pursue vocational education. In addition, I find that the type of degree a person receives may be as important to his or her earnings as his or her education level. However, the importance of degree type varies by gender, having a more substantial impact on earnings for men than for women. Consistent with the U.S. literature, I find that degree type does little to explain the overall gender gap in earnings in Taiwan, but may explain a substantial portion of the gap in a sample limited to university graduates.

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