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Women's Economic Progress and Inequality

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  • L Yuetyee Wong

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Abstract

This paper explores links between women's economic progress and widening inter-industry wage differentials. Each phenomenon arises because of technological change that has favored young women's human capital, in what is called sex-biased technological change. Such technological change helps lower the costs of women of bringing their abilities to the market, enabling more of them to gravitate to the high-tech sector, shifting the relative skill supply. Our theory can simultaneously rationalize the facts on increasing female wages and their participation in the high-tech sector, wage premium favoring the high-tech sector, and female to male wage ratios. Our theory also predicts an amplification of the selection effect on gender difference in productivity in the high-tech sector. We use workers' skill indexes given by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to determine technology sectors. Results based on state-level data indicate the elasticity of substitution between high and low-skill workers is around 2. We provide evidence in favor of sector participation and wage patterns predicted by our model. The allocative impact of sex-biased technological change is 8 to 10 times larger than the wage effect. The results are robust for all measures of patent innovation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2006 Meeting Papers with number 477.

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Date of creation: 03 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:477

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Keywords: sector choice; directed technological change; gender wage gap;

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  1. Steven G. Allen, 1996. "Technology and the Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 5534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-87, June.
  3. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1983. "Generalized Econometric Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 507-12, March.
  4. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
  5. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  6. Katz, Lawrence & Goldin, Claudia, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions," Scholarly Articles 2624453, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Ariel Pakes & Mark Schankerman, 1984. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Patents, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," NBER Chapters, in: R & D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 73-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1999. "Technological Change and Wages: An Interindustry Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 285-325, April.
  10. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-18, May.
  11. Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
  12. Angrist, Joshua D, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1065-87, December.
  13. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557.
  14. Martha J Bailey, 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Life Cycle Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320, 02.
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Cited by:
  1. Michelle Rendall, 2010. "Brain versus brawn: the realization of women's comparative advantage," IEW - Working Papers 491, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.

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