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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. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
  2. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2005. "Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps," Boston University - Department of Economics - Macroeconomics Working Papers Series, Boston University - Department of Economics WP2005-013, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Aug 2008.
  3. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 189-194, May.
  4. Bernd Fitzenberger & Gaby Wunderlich, 2002. "Gender Wage Differences in West Germany: A Cohort Analysis," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(4), pages 379-414, November.
  5. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  6. Marigee Bacolod & Bernardo S. Blum, 2005. "Two Sides of the Same Coin: U.S. “Residual†Inequality and the Gender Gap," Working Papers, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics 050617, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  7. Finis Welch, 2000. "Growth in Women's Relative Wages and in Inequality among Men: One Phenomenon or Two?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 444-449, May.
  8. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
  9. Chinhui Juhn & Sandra E. Black, 2000. "The Rise of Female Professionals: Are Women Responding to Skill Demand?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 450-455, May.
  10. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content Of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333, November.
  11. 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, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  12. Bruce Weinberg, 1998. "Computer Use and the Demand for Women Workers," Working Papers, Ohio State University, Department of Economics 98-06, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  13. Lucy Chennells & John Van Reenen, 1999. "Has technology hurt less skilled workers? A survey of the micro-econometric evidence," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W99/27, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  14. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  15. 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, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
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