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Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends Among Less-Skilled Workers

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  • Rebecca M. Blank
  • Heidi Shierholz

Abstract

In contrast to less-skilled men, less-skilled women have experienced growing labor force involvement and moderate wage increases. Compared to more-skilled women, less-skilled women have fallen behind. We investigated the reasons behind these trends in labor force participation and wages for male and female workers of different skill levels over the past 25 years, from 1979-2004. We find that less-skilled women have found themselves in an 'intermediate' place in the labor market. Like less-skilled men, they experienced deteriorating returns to education but, unlike the men, they benefited from a growing positive impact of accumulated experience on labor market outcomes. More-skilled women experienced both growing returns to education and greater accumulation of experience, leading to faster wage growth. In addition, at the same time that experience levels have grown, the returns to experience on wages and labor force participation have also risen among less-skilled women, while the returns to experience have declined among less-skilled men. The negative effect of children and marital status on wages and labor force participation has also declined markedly among women of all skill levels.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12494.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Publication status: published as Blank, Rebecca M., Sheldon H. Danziger, and Robert F. Schoeni (eds.) Working and Poor: How Economic and Policy Changes Are Affecting Low-Wage Workers, National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12494

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  1. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  2. 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.
  3. Thomas Lemieux & Nicole M. Fortin, 2000. "Are Women's Wage Gains Men's Losses? A Distributional Test," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 456-460, May.
  4. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogeneous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Data Set," NBER Working Papers 10325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kimberly Bayard & Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark & Kenneth Troske, 2003. "New Evidence on Sex Segregation and Sex Differences in Wages from Matched Employee-Employer Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(4), pages 887-922, October.
  7. Juhn, Chinhui & Kim, Dae Il, 1999. "The Effects of Rising Female Labor Supply on Male Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 23-48, January.
  8. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Note: For best results & the figures should be printed on a non-Postscript printer. Hoynes & H., . "The Employment, Earnings, and Income of Less-Skilled Workers over the Business Cycle," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1199-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," NBER Working Papers 5778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Kristin E. Smith, 2014. "The Ups and Downs in Women's Employment: Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1970 to 2010?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-211, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  2. Hélène Perivier, 2007. "Les femmes sur le marché du travail aux États-Unis - Une mise en perspective avec la France et la Suède," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2007-07, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  3. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/1203 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Hélène Périvier-Timbeau, 2007. "Les femmes sur le marché du travail aux Etats-Unis: une mise en perspective avec la France et la Suède," Sciences Po publications 2007-07, Sciences Po.
  5. Hélène Périvier-Timbeau, 2008. "Les femmes sur le marché du travail aux Etats-Unis," Sciences Po publications 2008-12, Sciences Po.
  6. Hélène Périvier, 2008. "Les femmes sur le marché du travail aux États-Unis," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2008-12, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  7. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/6142 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Julie L. Hotchkiss & John C. Robertson, 2006. "Asymmetric labor force participation decisions over the business cycle: evidence from U.S. microdata," Working Paper 2006-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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