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Biological Gender Differences, Absenteeism, and the Earnings Gap

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  • Andrea Ichino
  • Enrico Moretti

Abstract

In most countries, women are absent from work more frequently than men. Using personnel data, we find that the absences of women below the age of 45 follow a 28-day cycle, while the absences of men and of women over the age of 45 do not. We interpret this as evidence that the menstrual cycle increases female absenteeism. To investigate the effect on women's earnings, we use a simple model of statistical discrimination. Consistent with the model, we find absenteeism has a more negative effect on men's earnings and this difference declines with seniority. The increased absenteeism induced by the 28-day cycle explains at least 14 percent of the earnings gender differential. (JEL J16, J22, J31)

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Ichino & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Biological Gender Differences, Absenteeism, and the Earnings Gap," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 183-218, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:183-218
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.1.183
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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