IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Career Choice, Marriage-Timing, and the Attraction of Unequals

  • Dessy, Sylvain


    (Université Laval)

  • Djebbari, Habiba


    (Université Laval)

Both men and women wish to have a family and a rewarding career. In this paper, we show that the under-representation of women in high-powered professions may reflect a coordination failure in young women’s marriage-timing decisions. Since investing in a high-powered career imposes time strain, it precludes early participation in the marriage market. Delayed participation in the marriage market has a higher cost for women than for men because women have shorter fecundity horizons. Marriage prospects of high-powered women depend on the marriage-timing decisions of younger women. Under these assumptions, we show that women’s marriage-timing decisions exhibit strategic complementarities. Coordination failures in women’s marriage-timing decisions lead to persisting gender differences in career choices. Yet, differential fecundity is only necessary, but not sufficient to obtain gender inequality in high-powered professions. We discuss social changes that solve the coordination failure while achieving a Pareto-improvement in the society at large.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1561.

in new window

Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'High-powered careers and marriage: can women have it all?' in: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy: Advances in Economic Analysis and Policy, 2010, 10 (1), Article 42
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1561
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2007. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wage Distribution," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, . "More on Marriage, Fertility, and the Distribution of Inocome," Penn CARESS Working Papers 65f9ffed93b3a872de23c94c2, Penn Economics Department.
  3. Echenique, Federico & Edlin, Aaron, 2004. "Mixed equilibria are unstable in games of strategic complements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 61-79, September.
  4. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, . "Courtship as a Waiting Game," Papers _030, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
  5. Lawrence F. Katz & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Career and Marriage in the Age of the Pill," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 461-465, May.
  6. Albrecht, James & Björklund, Anders & Vroman, Susan, 2001. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," IZA Discussion Papers 282, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Lena Edlund, 2005. "Sex and the City," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 25-44, 03.
  8. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-08, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  9. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
  10. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap and the Decline in Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961.
  11. Gunderson, Morley, 1989. "Male-Female Wage Differentials and Policy Responses," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 46-72, March.
  12. Eugenio Giolito, 2004. "A Search Model of Marriage with Differential Fecundity," Labor and Demography 0402007, EconWPA.
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:917-961 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, 09.
  15. Aloysius Siow, 1996. "Differential Fecundity, Markets and Gender Roles," Working Papers siow-96-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  16. Claudia Goldin, 2004. "The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family," NBER Working Papers 10331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  18. Luisa Escriche & Gonzalo Olcina & Rosario Sánchez, 2004. "Gender discrimination and intergenerational transmission of preferences," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 485-511, July.
  19. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
  20. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 75-99, Fall.
  21. Francois, Patrick, 1998. "Gender discrimination without gender difference: theory and policy responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-32, April.
  22. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
  23. repec:oup:qjecon:v:103:y:1988:i:3:p:441-63 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Hadfield, Gillian K., 1999. "A coordination model of the sexual division of labor," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 125-153, October.
  25. Claudia Goldin, 2004. "From the Valley to the Summit: The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Work," NBER Working Papers 10335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:4:p:1249-1299 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:3:p:1049-1074 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  29. 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.
  30. Claudia Goldin, 2002. "A Pollution Theory of Discrimination: Male and Female Differences in Occupations and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 8985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. repec:oup:restud:v:63:y:1996:i:2:p:199-235 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1561. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.