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Institutional Demand-Side Discrimination Against Women and the Human Capital Model


  • David Colander
  • Joanna Wayland Woos


Human capital theorists claim that the gender wage gap is due in large part to supply-side factors. They base this claim on empirical evidence. This paper challenges the interpretation of that empirical evidence. It argues that that interpretation is based on an assumption of a simplified production system that rules out any consideration of institutionally-based demand-side discrimination. It argues that insiders have an incentive to choose production techniques that benefit themselves, and that their choices will bias measures of human capital in their favor. The paper then considers a specific case study - the undergraduate U.S. academic market - where such institutionally-based demand-side discrimination exists, and offers an institutional change which could work to offset it.

Suggested Citation

  • David Colander & Joanna Wayland Woos, 1997. "Institutional Demand-Side Discrimination Against Women and the Human Capital Model," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 53-64.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:3:y:1997:i:1:p:53-64 DOI: 10.1080/135457097338807

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
    2. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, June.
    3. Bourguignon, Francois & Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective models of household behavior : An introduction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 355-364, April.
    4. Doss, Cheryl R., 1996. "Testing among models of intrahousehold resource allocation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1597-1609, October.
    5. Farmer, Amy & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1995. "Fairness concepts and the intrahousehold allocation of resources," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-189, August.
    6. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
    7. Deere, Carmen Diana, 1985. "Rural women and state policy: The Latin American agrarian reform experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(9), pages 1037-1053, September.
    8. Folbre, Nancy, 1986. "Hearts and spades: Paradigms of household economics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 245-255, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Angela Cipollone & Marcella Corsi & Carlo D’Ippoliti, 2011. "Knowledge and Job Opportunities in a Gender Perspective: Insights from Italy," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 58(5), pages 735-757, December.
    2. Yana van der Meulen Rodgers & Joseph Zveglich & Laura Wherry, 2006. "Gender Differences In Vocational School Training And Earnings Premiums In Taiwan," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 527-560.
    3. Ann Mari May, 2006. "“Sweeping The Heavens For A Comet”: Women, The Language Of Political Economy, And Higher Education In The Us," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 625-640.
    4. Janet Spitz, 1999. "Human nature and judicial interpretation of equal employment law," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(7-8), pages 521-535.


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