Skip to main content


Sorensen, Annemette & Trappe, Heike (1995). The Persistence of Gender Inequality in Earnings in the German Democratic Republic. American Sociological Review, 60, 398-406.


When the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist in 1990, women there had achieved virtual equality with men in terms of occupational qualifications and labor force experience. New life history data for four birth cohorts of East German women and men show that, despite this, the gender gap in earnings remained substantial. Throughout the 40-year history of the GDR, women continued to experience a considerable pay disadvantage when entering the work force, and the gap persisted at the end of 1989. The persistence of women's pay disadvantage in a society where gender differences in qualifications and labor force experience had almost disappeared suggests that education and labor force experience were not causes of the gender gap in pay. The inability to explain much of women's lower pay by the sex segregation of broad occupational or industrial categories suggests that the main source of women's pay disadvantage was low pay in the specific jobs occupied by women. This raises the question of why the Socialist Party did not exercise its authority in the centralized economy to adjust pay scales to remove gender-based pay differentials.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Sociological Review


Sorensen, Annemette
Trappe, Heike