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Biological Gender Differences, Absenteeism, and the Earnings Gap

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  • Andrea Ichino
  • Enrico Moretti

Abstract

In most countries, women are absent from work more frequently than men. Using personnel data, we find that the absences of women below the age of 45 follow a 28-day cycle, while the absences of men and of women over the age of 45 do not. We interpret this as evidence that the menstrual cycle increases female absenteeism. To investigate the effect on women's earnings, we use a simple model of statistical discrimination. Consistent with the model, we find absenteeism has a more negative effect on men's earnings and this difference declines with seniority. The increased absenteeism induced by the 28-day cycle explains at least 14 percent of the earnings gender differential. (JEL J16, J22, J31)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 183-218

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:183-218

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.1.183
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis, 2011. "Gender-Based Taxation and the Division of Family Chores," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-40, May.
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  6. Andrea Ichino & Regina T. Riphahn, 2001. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort. A Comparison of Absenteeism During and After Probation," CESifo Working Paper Series 596, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Sarah Bridges & Karen Mumford, . "Absenteeism in the UK: A Comparison Across Genders," Discussion Papers 00/12, Department of Economics, University of York.
  8. Paringer, Lynn, 1983. "Women and Absenteeism: Health or Economics?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 123-27, May.
  9. Yan Chen & Peter Katuscak & Emre Ozdenoren, 2005. "Why Can’t a Woman Bid More Like a Man?," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp275, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  10. Ichino, Andrea & Maggi, Giovanni, 2000. "Work Environment And Individual Background: Explaining Regional Shirking Differentials In A Large Italian Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 2387, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Janet Currie & Rosemary Hyson, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," NBER Working Papers 6999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Milgrom, Paul & Oster, Sharon, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-76, August.
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  14. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ichino, Andrea & Polo, Michele & Rettore, Enrico, 2003. "Are judges biased by labor market conditions?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 913-944, October.
  16. Barmby, T A & Orme, C D & Treble, John G, 1991. "Worker Absenteeism: An Analysis Using Microdata," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 214-29, March.
  17. V. Joseph Hotz & Robert A. Miller, . "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 86-15, Chicago - Population Research Center.
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