Gender Specialization of Skill Acquisition
This paper presents a model that can account for the gender specialization of skill acquisition in the presence of competitive matching. In particular we show that when the comparative advantage in nonmarket domestic activities belongs to women, an incentive arises for them to intentionally degrade the market value of acquired skills in order to secure gains from the marriage market. We then show that this incentive can be excessively strong and gives rise to the emergence of an inefficient asymmetric equilibrium where women concentrate excessively on acquiring skills that do not lead to higher wages in the labor market. The analysis reveals why policy interventions such as affirmative action programs or equal employment opportunity laws that directly subsidize the acquisition of skills for women would not be effective in closing the gender earnings gap in the long run, and instead suggests that extensive family policies are generally more effective in this regard.
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Volume (Year): 7 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
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