In 2011, the government of Kyrgyzstan increased the wages paid to teachers, healthcare workers, and social workers (EHS) in response to national strikes from teachers over low wages and working conditions. The EHS wage policy was adjusted between 2012 and 2015. We examine the literature on gender wage inequality and policies to redress inequalities in different countries and specifically in Central Asia.
We use data from the Life in Kyrgyzstan panel surveys (2010–2016) and the Kyrgyzstan Labor Force Surveys (2009–2016) to describe the gender gap in wages and hours of work over time for EHS and other workers. We estimate panel models of the impact of the wage reform on monthly wages using LIK data. We find that the wage policy reduced the difference in wages between comparably skilled EHS and other workers, reduced the gender pay gap primarily in the EHS sector, and reduced the overall gender wage gap in Kyrgyzstan. This wage-setting policy targeted rural areas and narrowed the gap in wages paid to rural and urban workers. The policy was an effective mechanism to reduce wage inequality.