The lifetime gender gap in Italy. Do the pension system countervails labour market outcomes?

In Italy large work career gender gaps currently exists, particularly regarding wages and activity rates. The paper investigates the issue looking at lifetime incomes, where from the one side all the career gaps tend to accumulate, from the other the redistribution acted by the pension system may mitigate the differences. Exploiting an original database on the entire work careers, we document how the pay gap constantly opens with age and how women tend to cumulate lower seniority. Both gaps have an impact in the pension calculation, so that the day after retirement gender differences are even higher. By means of a microsimulation model we show that the pension system partially countervails labour market outcomes, implying lower differences in lifetime incomes. However, due to the current transition to an actuarially neutral system, the effect is going to vanish in following decades, posing some concerns about future prospects of gender income inequality.