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Contact use in job placement and its impact on the gender earnings gap in transitional urban China: Evidence from Xiamen, 1999


International Sociology

Published online on


Unlike the majority of existing studies that explain the gender earnings gap from a structural perspective, this study aims to understand the unexplained part of gender earnings inequality from a behavioural perspective. By adopting a dataset collected in the Chinese city of Xiamen when China’s market economy was still in formation, this study focuses on how earnings are affected by contact use in job placement. Results based on the quantile regression model show that contact use significantly narrows the average gender earnings gap by enhancing women’s earnings in the lower to middle levels of the earnings hierarchy, but this positive role that women’s contact use plays in their earnings outcome disappears in the upper level of the earnings hierarchy. This study thus calls for scholarly attention to the contextually sensitive consequences of individual behaviour in terms of understanding the part of gender earnings inequality that cannot be explained by the existing literature.