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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.

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

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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
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