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This study offers an explanation to the interstate variation of the gender wage gap in the United States. Looking at political explanations as an answer for the wage gap’s persistence, I hypothesize that Democratically controlled state government positively impacts the state having pay equity policies, and that having these pay equity policies positively impacts the state’s gender wage gap. Using U.S. Census Bureau, National Conference of State Legislatures, and American Association of University Women with U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau data, I find that while there is a correlation between Democratically controlled state legislatures and pay equity policy and a correlation between Democratic majority legislatures and a narrower gender wage gap, there does not appear to be a direct association between pay equity policy and the state’s gender wage gap. The findings suggest that partisanship of the state legislature plays a key role in the wage equity policy of a state, as well as the reasoning that longstanding Democratic majorities have already passed policy to combat the apparent causes of the gap, and that more in depth policy is thus necessary to completely close it.

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2021




Wage Gap; Interstate variation; State partisanship; Democratic control

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File Size

518 KB


Faculty Mentor: Kenneth Miller, Ph.D.


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The Gender Wage Gap as it Relates to State Partisan Control and Pay Equity Policy