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Noncognitive skills, occupational attainment, and relative wages

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  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.
  • Tan, Michelle

Abstract

This paper examines whether men's and women's noncognitive skills influence their occupational attainment and, if so, whether this contributes to the disparity in their relative wages. We find that noncognitive skills have a substantial effect on the probability of employment in many, though not all, occupations in ways that differ by gender. Consequently, men and women with similar noncognitive skills enter occupations at very different rates. Women, however, have lower wages on average not because they work in different occupations than men do, but rather because they earn less than their male colleagues employed in the same occupation. On balance, women's noncognitive skills give them a slight wage advantage. Finally, we find that accounting for the endogeneity of occupational attainment more than halves the proportion of the overall gender wage gap that is unexplained.

Suggested Citation

  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Tan, Michelle, 2011. "Noncognitive skills, occupational attainment, and relative wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-13, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:18:y:2011:i:1:p:1-13
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Noncognitve skills Personality Occupation Gender wage gap Decomposition;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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