State interventions to decrease the gender wage gap are often criticized for creating one-approach-forall which may be inappropriate for the specific difficulties faced by each sector and firm. In this paper, I study a unique policy where French firms were mandated by law to negotiate agreements on gender equality with union representatives. I estimate the causal effect of the signature of such agreements on the wage gap and other measures of gender inequalities. Using a unique combination of administrative datasets, I exploit the staggered signature of agreements over the 2010-2013 period and find that the law had an effect on the signature of those agreements but did not alter the gender wage gap nor many other outcomes reflecting gender inequalities. The absence of gender-related changes can plausibly be explained by the lack of obligation of result in the law and by the weak oversight of agreements’ content.
Caroline Coly, Bocconi University - AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality, Paris School of Economics