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Continuing Progress? Trends in Occupational Segregation in the United States Over the 1970s and 1980s

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  • Francine D. Blau
  • Patricia Simpson
  • Deborah Anderson

Abstract

This study uses comparable data on 470 detailed occupations from the 1970, 1980 and 1990 Censuses to analyze trends in occupational segregation in the United States in the 1980s and compare them in detail to the 1970s experience of declining segregation. We find that the trend towards reduced segregation did indeed continue into the 1980s at only a slightly slower pace. In both decades, changes in sex composition within occupations accounted for the major share of the decline in segregation (compared to changes in the mix of occupations in the economy). We also find that the pattern of changes in the sex composition of occupations and in the employment distribution of workers that produced the observed reductions in segregation were remarkably similar in each of these two periods. This similarity potentially poses some problems for the future. As women continue to enter the same areas, resegregation, which we found to have relatively moderate effects in the 1970s and 1980s, becomes an increasing possibility. Continued progress towards reducing occupational segregation requires that women succeed in entering a broader range of traditionally male occupations and/or a greater flow of men into traditionally female occupations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6716.

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Date of creation: Sep 1998
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Publication status: published as Feminist Economics (Fall 1998): 29-71. Published as "Black-White Earnings Over the 1970s and 1980s: Gender Differences in Trends".
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6716

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  1. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1, October.
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  7. 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.
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  13. Paula England, 1982. "The Failure of Human Capital Theory to Explain Occupational Sex Segregation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 358-370.
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  16. Neumark, David, 1996. "Sex Discrimination in Restaurant Hiring: An Audit Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 915-41, August.
  17. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
  18. Victor R. Fuchs, 1975. "A Note on Sex Segregation in Professional Occupations," NBER Chapters, in: Explorations in Economic Research, Volume 2, number 1, pages 105-111 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Carrington, William J & Troske, Kenneth R, 1997. "On Measuring Segregation in Samples with Small Units," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(4), pages 402-09, October.
  20. Elaine Sorensen, 1990. "The Crowding Hypothesis and Comparable Worth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(1), pages 55-89.
  21. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1989. "Women and Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 61-75, Winter.
  22. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-71, July.
  23. Gary S. Becker, . "The Allocation of Effort, Specific Human Capital, and Differences Between Men and Women in Earnings and Occupations," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 83-20, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  24. William J. Carrington & Kenneth R. Troske, 1995. "Gender Segregation in Small Firms," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 503-533.
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