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Rethinking the Two-Body Problem: The Segregation of Women Into Geographically Dispersed Occupations

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  • Alan Benson

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Abstract

Empirical research on the family cites the tendency for couples to relocate for husbands’ careers as evidence against the gender neutrality of household economic decisions. For these studies, occupational segregation is a concern because occupations are not random by sex and mobility is not random by occupation. I find that the tendency for households to relocate for husbands’ careers is better explained by the segregation of women into geographically dispersed occupations rather than by the direct prioritization of men’s careers. Among never-married workers, women relocate for work less often than men, and the gender effect disappears after occupational segregation is accounted for. Although most two-earner families feature husbands in geographically clustered jobs involving frequent relocation for work, families are no less likely to relocate for work when it belongs to the wife. I conclude that future research in household mobility should treat occupational segregation occurring prior to marriage rather than gender bias within married couples as the primary explanation for the prioritization of husbands’ careers in household mobility decisions. Copyright Population Association of America 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Benson, 2014. "Rethinking the Two-Body Problem: The Segregation of Women Into Geographically Dispersed Occupations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(5), pages 1619-1639, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:51:y:2014:i:5:p:1619-1639
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-014-0324-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:789-865 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Raven Molloy & Christopher L. Smith & Abigail Wozniak, 2013. "Declining Migration wihin the US: The Role of the Labor Market," Working Papers 13-53, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. repec:oup:oxecpp:v:69:y:2017:i:3:p:734-757. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2017. "The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 789-865, September.
    5. Jennifer Roberts & Karl Taylor, 2017. "Intra-household commuting choices and local labour markets," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 734-757.
    6. Raven Molloy & Christopher L. Smith & Abigail Wozniak, 2017. "Job Changing and the Decline in Long-Distance Migration in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 631-653, April.
    7. Francine D. Blau & Anne E. Winkler, 2017. "Women, Work, and Family," NBER Working Papers 23644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Foged, Mette, 2016. "Family migration and relative earnings potentials," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 87-100.

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