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Fueling the Gender Gap? Oil and Women's Labor and Marriage Market Outcomes

  • Stephan E. Maurer
  • Andrei V. Potlogea

This paper analyzes the effect of resource-based economic specialization on women's labor market outcomes. Using information on the location and discovery of major oil fields in the Southern United States coupled with a county-level panel derived from US Census data for 1900-1940, we specifically test the hypothesis that the presence of mineral resources can induce changes in the sectoral composition of the local economy that are detrimental to women's labor market outcomes. We find evidence that the discovery of oil at the county level may constitute a substantial male biased demand shock to local labor markets, as it is associated with a higher gender pay gap. However, we find no evidence that oil wealth lowers female labor force participation or has any impact on local marriage and fertility patterns. While our results are consistent with oil shocks limiting female labor market opportunities in some sectors (mainly manufacturing), this effect tends to be compensated by the higher availability of service sector jobs for women who are therefore not driven out of the labor market.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1280.

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Date of creation: Jun 2014
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1280
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