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

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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.'

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8985.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
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Publication status: Forthcoming: A Pollution Theory of Discrimination: Male and Female Differences in Occupations and Earnings , Claudia Goldin. in Human Capital in History: The American Record , Boustan, Frydman, and Margo. 2014
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8985

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  7. Alesina, Alberto F & Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2011. "On the origins of gender roles: women and the plough," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. 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, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 456-463, June.
  2. Chinhui Juhn & Gergely Ujhelyi & Carolina Villegas-Sanchez, 2012. "Men, Women, and Machines: How Trade Impacts Gender Inequality," NBER Working Papers 18106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Olga Alonso Villar & Coral del Río, 2010. "Segregation of female and male workers in Spain: occupations and industries," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, IEF, vol. 194(3), pages 91-121, June.
  4. Sylvain Dessy & Habiba Djebbari, 2005. "Career Choice, Marriage-Timing, and the Attraction of Unequals," Cahiers de recherche, CIRPEE 0507, CIRPEE.
  5. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier.
  6. Hensvik, Lena, 2011. "Manager impartiality? Worker-firm matching and the gender wage gap," Working Paper Series, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2011:22, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  7. Illong Kwon & Eva Meyersson Milgrom, 2010. "Working for Female Managers: Gender Hierarchy in the Workplace," Discussion Papers, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research 09-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. 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).
  9. Michel Alexandre da Silva, 2011. "Endogenouscategorization and neighborhood effects," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting], ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of 213, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  10. Palomino, Frédéric & Peyrache, Eloïc-Anil, 2010. "Psychological bias and gender wage gap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 563-573, December.

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