The Nature of Pluralism in Economics: A Case Study of the Gender Wage Gap
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Understanding and measuring a socially relevant and complex phenomenon like the gender wage gap requires a thorough understanding of the causal factors arising in the real world. This thesis investigates the Marxist and neoclassical theoretical models of the gender wage gap and considers the nature of pluralism within different approaches to measuring this phenomenon. I analyze the Oaxaca and the Karamessini & Ioakimoglou decomposition methods, where various algorithms and regressions are used to decompose the problem of the gender wage gap into sub-problems. I further consider how monism and pluralism have been coming in and out of fashion in economics over the course of the 20th century and well into the 21st century – where pluralism seems to be on the rise and is a contentious topic of discussion in mainstream economics. The analysis in this thesis illuminates two kinds of pluralism arising with respect to methodological approaches that different theoretical traditions use to understand the wage gap. I conclude that both kinds of pluralism, modest and empirical pluralism, are necessary for furthering our understanding of this complex phenomenon and benefit the insight we gain from the various decomposition analyses of the wage gap in the real world.
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