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Explaining Women's Success: Technological Change and the Skill Content of Women's Work

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  • Sandra E. Black

    (UCLA, NBER, and IZA)

  • Alexandra Spitz-Oener

    (Humboldt University Berlin, IAB, CASE, and IZA)

Abstract

In this study, we explore a new approach for analyzing changes in the gender pay gap that uses direct measures of job tasks and gives a comprehensive characterization of how work for men and women has changed in recent decades. Using data from West Germany, we find that women have witnessed relative increases in nonroutine analytic and interactive tasks. The most notable difference between the genders is, however, the pronounced relative decline in routine task inputs among women, driven, at least in part, by technological change. These changes explain a substantial fraction of the closing of the gender wage gap. © 2010 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 187-194

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:92:y:2010:i:1:p:187-194

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  1. Bernd Fitzenberger & Gaby Wunderlich, 2002. "Gender Wage Differences in West Germany: A Cohort Analysis," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(4), pages 379-414, November.
  2. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  3. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2005. "Unequal Pay or Unequal employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps," CEP Discussion Papers dp0711, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 189-194, May.
  5. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  7. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2001. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 8337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
  9. Finis Welch, 2000. "Growth in Women's Relative Wages and in Inequality among Men: One Phenomenon or Two?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 444-449, May.
  10. Bruce Weinberg, 1998. "Computer Use and the Demand for Women Workers," Working Papers 98-06, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  11. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  12. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and lovely jobs: the rising polarization of work in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20002, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  13. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  14. Chinhui Juhn & Sandra E. Black, 2000. "The Rise of Female Professionals: Are Women Responding to Skill Demand?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 450-455, May.
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