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Gender Wage Differentials in a Competitive Labor Market: The Household Interaction Effect


  • Francois, Patrick

    () (Tilburg University)

  • van Ours, Jan C.

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam)


We present a theoretical explanation of the gender wage gap which turns on the interaction between men and women in households. In equilibria where men are over-represented in full-time work, we show that firms rationally choose to hire women only at strictly lower wages than men. The model developed predicts a gap even controlling for education, occupation and industry of workers and does so in a competitive labor market where there exist no inherent gender differences. We test our theory using CPS data over the period 1979-98 and find it is strongly supported by the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Francois, Patrick & van Ours, Jan C., 2000. "Gender Wage Differentials in a Competitive Labor Market: The Household Interaction Effect," IZA Discussion Papers 202, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp202

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. B. Burcin Yurtoglu & Christine Zulehner, 2007. "The gender wage gap in top corporate jobs is still there," Vienna Economics Papers 0701, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    2. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2016. "The Evolution of Gender Gaps in Industrialized Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 405-434, October.
    3. Barth, Erling & Pekkala Kerr, Sari & Olivetti, Claudia, 2017. "The Dynamics of Gender Earnings Differentials: Evidence from Establishment Data," IZA Discussion Papers 10974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Frédéric Palomino & Eloïc-Anil Peyrache, 2010. "Psychological Bias and Gender Wage Gap," Post-Print hal-00911836, HAL.
    5. René Böheim & Helmut Hofer & Christine Zulehner, 2007. "Wage differences between Austrian men and women: semper idem?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 213-229, July.
    6. Natalia Soboleva, 2014. "Gender Attitudes In The World Of Work: Cross-Cultural Comparison," HSE Working papers WP BRP 46/SOC/2014, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    7. Palomino, Frédéric & Peyrache, Eloïc-Anil, 2010. "Psychological bias and gender wage gap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 563-573, December.
    8. Olivetti, Claudia & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2016. "The evolution of the gender gap in industrialized countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 11034, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Saurina Canals, C. & Saez Zafra, M., 2004. "Estudio empírico en población femenina sobre condiciones de aceptación de empleo a tiempo parcial: Un modelo de decisiones múltiples./Empirical Study of the Conditions for Taking a Part Time Job Among," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 22, pages 83-98, Abril.

    More about this item


    Gender discrimination; household models; wage gap;

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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