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The Gender Gap in Funeral Directors: Burying Women with Ready‐to‐Embalm Laws?

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  • Alison Cathles
  • David E. Harrington
  • Kathy Krynski

Abstract

Over the last few decades, the gender composition of funeral directors in the United States has changed dramatically as women have entered this traditionally male‐dominated occupation. To practise as funeral directors, women (and men) must be licensed in all but one state. The most extensive training requirements exist in the 27 states with ‘ready‐to‐embalm’ laws, which require funeral directors to be embalmers. Using a sample of 45,989 licensing records from 40 states, we find that 18.1 per cent of funeral directors were women in 2006. However, the proportion is significantly lower in states with ready‐to‐embalm laws. Our regressions imply that these laws reduce the proportion of female funeral directors by 24 per cent. More generally, we find that the number of funeral directors per capita is 17 per cent lower, on average, in states with ready‐to‐embalm laws.

Suggested Citation

  • Alison Cathles & David E. Harrington & Kathy Krynski, 2010. "The Gender Gap in Funeral Directors: Burying Women with Ready‐to‐Embalm Laws?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(4), pages 688-705, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:48:y:2010:i:4:p:688-705
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8543.2010.00808.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2013. "Analyzing the Extent and Influence of Occupational Licensing on the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages 173-202.
    2. Allison†Scott Pruitt, 2018. "Redoing Gender: How Women in the Funeral Industry Use Essentialism for Equality," Gender, Work and Organization, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(2), pages 144-158, March.
    3. Daniel J. Smith & Noah J. Trudeau, 2019. "The Undertaker’s Cut: Challenging the Rational Basis for Casket Licensure," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 34(Summer 20), pages 23-41.
    4. Morris M. Kleiner & Allison Marier & Kyoung Won Park & Coady Wing, 2016. "Relaxing Occupational Licensing Requirements: Analyzing Wages and Prices for a Medical Service," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 261-291.
    5. Marc T. Law & Mindy S. Marks, 2017. "The Labor-Market Effects of Occupational Licensing Laws in Nursing," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 640-661, October.

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