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A quantitative theory of the gender gap in wages

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  • Andres Erosa
  • Luisa Fuster
  • Diego Restuccia

Abstract

Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), we document that gender differences in wages almost double during the first 20 years of labor market experience and that there are substantial gender differences in employment and hours of work during the life cycle. A large portion of gender differences in labor market attachment can be traced to the impact of children on the labor supply of women. We develop a quantitative life-cycle model of fertility, labor supply, and human capital accumulation decisions. We use this model to assess the role of fertility on gender differences in labor supply and wages over the life cycle. In our model, fertility lowers the lifetime intensity of market activity, reducing the incentives for human capital accumulation and wage growth over the life cycle of females relative to males. We calibrate the model to panel data of men and to fertility and child related labor market histories of women. We find that fertility accounts for most of the gender differences in labor supply and wages during the life cycle documented in the NLSY data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 05-09.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:05-09

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Keywords: Labor economics ; Wages;

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References

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  1. Bowlus, A.J., 1995. "A Search Interpretation of Male-Female Wage Differentials," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9504, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  2. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, 05.
  3. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," NBER Working Papers 7732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S76-S108, Part II, .
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  9. Attanasio, O. & Low, H. & Sanchez-Marcos, V., 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-cycle Model," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0451, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  10. Claudia Olivetti, 2005. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Boston University - Department of Economics - Macroeconomics Working Papers Series WP2005-008, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Jun 2006.
  11. José María Da Rocha & Luisa Fuster, 2006. "Why Are Fertility Rates And Female Employment Ratios Positively Correlated Across O.E.C.D. Countries?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1187-1222, November.
  12. Deborah J. Anderson & Melissa Binder & Kate Krause, 2002. "The Motherhood Wage Penalty: Which Mothers Pay It and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 354-358, May.
  13. Wood, Robert G & Corcoran, Mary E & Courant, Paul N, 1993. "Pay Differences among the Highly Paid: The Male-Female Earnings Gap in Lawyers' Salaries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 417-41, July.
  14. Vegard Skirbekk, 2003. "Age and individual productivity: a literature survey," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-028, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  15. Andrés Erosa & Luisa Fuster & Diego Restuccia, 2002. "Fertility Decisions and Gender Differences in Labor Turnover, Employment, and Wages," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 856-891, October.
  16. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  17. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polacheck, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 397-431 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Larry E. Jones & Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2003. "Why are married women working so much?," Staff Report 317, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  19. Polachek, Solomon, 2004. "How the Human Capital Model Explains Why the Gender Wage Gap Narrowed," IZA Discussion Papers 1102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
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