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The Effects of Rising Female Labor Supply on Male Wages

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  • Chinhui Juhn
  • Dae Il Kim

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which rapid increases in female labor supply contributed to rising wage inequality and to declining real wages of less skilled males during the 1980s. We find that while the male wage declines are concentrated in the 1980s, female labor supply growth slowed in the 1980s relative to the 1970s. Women also increased the relative supply of skill in the economy in the 1980s. We find these findings to be inconsistent with a simple story in which supply shifts among women have played a major role. Instead, they further support the view that demand shifts, rather than supply shifts, have been the underlying cause of declining opportunities for less skilled males and rapid inequality growth in the 1980s. We also use state and SMSA-level data to estimate cross- substitution effects between men and women of different skill types. We find weak evidence that women may be substitutes for high school dropout men and that college educated women may have contributed to wage inequality growth by being better substitutes for high school dropout men than high school graduate men. We end with some suggestive evidence that unmeasured demand shifts which favored skilled female workers over less skilled male workers may be biasing our results towards finding substitution between these two groups.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5236.

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Date of creation: Aug 1995
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Publication status: published as Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 17 (January 1999).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5236

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  1. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  2. 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.
  3. Bound, John & Holzer, Harry J, 1993. "Industrial Shifts, Skills Levels, and the Labor Market for White and Black Males," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(3), pages 387-96, August.
  4. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  5. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1989. "Labor Market Adjustments to Increased Immigration," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 55, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  6. Grant, James H & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1981. "Labor Market Competition among Youths, White Women and Others," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(3), pages 354-60, August.
  7. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Demographic Determinants of the Demand for Black Labor," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 191-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. SAAD-LESSLER, Joelle, 2008. "Labor Market Adjustment In The Us," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 8(2), pages 29-50.
  2. Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2006. "People People: Social Capital and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," NBER Working Papers 11985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gustavsson, Magnus & Österholm, Pär, 2006. "Does Unemployment Hysteresis Equal Employment Hysteresis?," Working Paper Series 2006:15, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Sotomayor, Orlando J., 2009. "Changes in the Distribution of Household Income in Brazil: The Role of Male and Female Earnings," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1706-1715, October.
  5. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2001. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," NBER Working Papers 8200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2005. "Selection, Investment, and Women's Relative Wages Since 1975," NBER Working Papers 11159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Etienne Wasmer, 2006. "Links between Labor Supply and Unemployment: Theory and Empirics," Sciences Po publications 06-15, Sciences Po.
  8. Gustavsson, Magnus, 2004. "Trends in the Transitory Variance of Earnings: Evidence from Sweden 1960-1990 and a Comparison with the United States," Working Paper Series 2004:11, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  9. Rebecca M. Blank & Heidi Shierholz, 2006. "Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends Among Less-Skilled Workers," NBER Working Papers 12494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sonia Oreffice, 2007. "Did the legalization of abortion increase women’s household bargaining power? Evidence from labor supply," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 181-207, June.
  11. David S. Loughran, 2000. "Does Variance Matter? The Effect of Rising Male Inequality on Female Age at First Marriage," Working Papers 00-12, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  12. Bruce Weinberg, 1998. "Computer Use and the Demand for Women Workers," Working Papers 98-06, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  13. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
  14. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2004. "The Closing of the Gender Gap as a Roy Model Illusion," NBER Working Papers 10892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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