Comparative studies of sex segregation indicate that the levels in the Scandinavian countries are high, especially in Norway. Observers tend to link this to various aspects of the social democratic welfare state. This article examines the thesis that the public sector in the Scandinavian welfare state model is an attractive employer for women, with regard to both working conditions and wages. The data consist of a sample from the 1990 Norwegian population census of men and women between the age of 40 and 45. The economic consequences of the same occupational choices are shown to vary for men and women. The men have greater earnings advantages if they choose occupations in the private sector with low proportions of women. The earnings advantages for women in such occupations, compared to women in public sector occupations, are far lower. Further, the earnings of women in private sector male-dominated occupations are influenced by their childcare responsibilities. The higher the childcare responsibilities, the lower the earnings. No effects of childcare responsibilities are found among women in public sector occupations with large proportions of men. These findings thus indicate that the size and the organisation of the public sector in Scandinavia contributes to sex segregation in the labour market.
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