To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

The impact of economic freedom on the gender pay gap: evidence from a survey of UK households

Nicholas Apergis (University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Nicola Lynch (University of Derby, Derby, UK)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 25 December 2020



Using survey datasets, the purpose of this work explores the impact of economic freedom on the gender pay gap in the UK.


The analysis combines Economic Freedom of the World data with the Understanding Society (USoc) Microdata series.


The results document that economic freedom positively affects the gender pay gap. When the components of the index are considered, the findings indicate different effects of various types of policy, i.e. less government spending, stronger trade liberalization conditions and levels of corruption lead to higher gaps; stronger legal and property rights and a sounder money system have no impact on the gap. Moreover, a stronger impact in the manufacturing industry, part-time workers and those who work in the non-London regions is observed.

Practical implications

The findings imply that reductions to government spending programmes can potentially aggravate the gap in hourly wages paid between males and females and should, therefore, be implemented. It may be also possible to provide females the training or education necessary to effectively compete in the workforce, before eliminating any spending programme they rely on.


The first study explores the link between economic freedom and gender pay gap through a unique survey dataset with UK households.



The authors wish to thank the comments and suggestions provided by a referee. They have substantially enhanced the merit of this work. Special thanks also go to the editor who gave them the chance to revise their work. Needless to say, the usual disclaimer applies.


Apergis, N. and Lynch, N. (2020), "The impact of economic freedom on the gender pay gap: evidence from a survey of UK households", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited