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A Pollution Theory of Discrimination: Male and Female Differences in Occupations and Earnings

In: Human Capital in History: The American Record

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

Occupations are segregated by sex today, but were far more segregated in the early to mid-twentieth century when married women began to enter the labor force in large numbers. It is difficult to rationalize sex segregation and 'wage discrimination' on the basis of men's taste for distance from women in the same way differences between other groups in work and housing have been explained. Rather, this paper constructs a 'pollution' theory model of discrimination in which new female hires may reduce the prestige of a previously all-male occupation. The predictions of the model concern the range of segregated and integrated occupations with respect to a productivity characteristic and how occupational segregation changes as the characteristic distributions become more similar by sex. The historical record reveals numerous cases of the model's predictions. Occupations that were more segregated by sex, for both men and women, contained individuals with higher levels of the productivity characteristic. 'Credentialization,' the shattering of old stereotypes, and information about individual women's productivities can help expunge 'pollution.'

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12904.

Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12904

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  1. Randall K. Filer, 1983. "Sexual Differences in Earnings: The Role of Individual Personalities and Tastes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 82-99.
  2. Beaman, Lori & Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra & Duflo, Esther & Pande, Rohini & Topalova, Petia, 2008. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6922, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical theories of discrimination in labor markets," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
  4. Paola Giuliano, 2012. "On The Origins Of Gender Roles: Women And The Plough," 2012 Meeting Papers 1186, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Edith Abbott & S. P. Breckinridge, 1911. "Women in Industry: The Chicago Stockyards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19, pages 632.
  6. Goldin, Claudia, 1986. "Monitoring Costs and Occupational Segregation by Sex: A Historical Analysis," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-27, January.
  7. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  8. Blau, Francine D. & Brummund, Peter & Liu, Albert Yung-Hsu, 2012. "Trends in Occupational Segregation by Gender 1970-2009: Adjusting for the Impact of Changes in the Occupational Coding System," IZA Discussion Papers 6490, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Paul R. Milgrom, 1984. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces and the Invisibility Hypothesis," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 708R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised 1985.
  10. Claudia Goldin & Kenneth Sokoloff, 1981. "Women, Children, and Industrialization in the Early Republic: Evidence from the Manufacturing Censuses," UCLA Economics Working Papers 220, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Edith Abbott, 1907. "Employment of Women in Industries: Cigar-Making: Its History and Present Tendencies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15, pages 1.
  12. Kuhn, Peter, 1993. "Demographic groups and personnel policy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 49-70, June.
  13. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  14. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1.
  15. S. P. Breckinridge, 1906. "Legislative Control of Women's Work," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14, pages 107.
  16. William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Hensvik, Lena, 2011. "Manager impartiality? Worker-firm matching and the gender wage gap," Working Paper Series 2011:22, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Jacques, Jean-François & Walkowiak, Emmanuelle, 2009. "Low wages and high unemployment rates: The role of social interactions in hiring discrimination," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 456-463, June.
  3. Chinhui Juhn & Gergely Ujhelyi & Carolina Villegas-Sanchez, 2013. "Men, Women, and Machines: How Trade Impacts Gender Inequality," Working Papers 201303234, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
  4. Palomino, Frédéric & Peyrache, Eloïc-Anil, 2010. "Psychological bias and gender wage gap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 563-573, December.
  5. Bell, Linda A., 2005. "Women-Led Firms and the Gender Gap in Top Executive Jobs," IZA Discussion Papers 1689, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Olga Alonso Villar & Coral del Río, 2010. "Segregation of female and male workers in Spain: occupations and industries," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 194(3), pages 91-121, June.
  7. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  8. Sylvain Dessy & Habiba Djebbari, 2005. "Career Choice, Marriage-Timing, and the Attraction of Unequals," Cahiers de recherche 0507, CIRPEE.
  9. Michel Alexandre da Silva, 2011. "Endogenouscategorization and neighborhood effects," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 213, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  10. Illong Kwon & Eva Meyersson Milgrom, 2010. "Working for Female Managers: Gender Hierarchy in the Workplace," Discussion Papers 09-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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