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Career Plans and Expectations of Young Women and Men: The Earnings Gap and Labor Force Participation

  • Francine D. Blau
  • Marianne A. Ferber

Using detailed information on the career plans and earnings expectations of college business school seniors, we test the hypothesis that women who plan to work intermittently choose jobs with lower rewards to work experience in return for lower penalties for labor force interruptions. We find that while men and women expect similar starting salaries, women anticipate considerably lower earnings in subsequent years, even under the assumption of continuous employment after leaving school. While it is also true that women in the sample plan to work fewer years than men, these differences do not explain the observed gender differences in expected earnings profiles. We also find no evidence that gender differences in expected earnings have any effect on the number of years these women plan to be in the labor market.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 26 (1991)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 581-607

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:26:y:1991:i:4:p:581-607
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S76-S108, Part II, .
  2. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
  3. Paula England, 1982. "The Failure of Human Capital Theory to Explain Occupational Sex Segregation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 358-370.
  4. Steven H. Sandell & David Shapiro, 1980. "Work Expectations, Human Capital Accumulation, and the Wages of Young Women," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(3), pages 335-353.
  5. Polachek, Solomon William, 1975. "Differences in Expected Post-school Investments as a Determinant of Market Wage Differentials," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 16(2), pages 451-70, June.
  6. Yoram Weiss, 1981. "Expected Interruptions in Labor Force Participation and Sex Related Differences in Earnings Growth," NBER Working Papers 0667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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