IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Earnings Inequality and Market Work in Husband-Wife Families


  • Pencavel, John

    () (Stanford University)


Constructing pseudo-panel data from successive Current Population Surveys, this paper analyzes earnings inequality in husband and wife families over the life cycle and over time. Particular attention is devoted to the role of labor supply in influencing measures of earnings inequality. Compact and accurate descriptions of earnings inequality are derived that facilitate the analysis of the effect of the changing market employment of wives on earnings inequality. The growing propensity of married women to work for pay has mitigated the increase in family earnings inequality. Alternative measures of earnings inequality covering people with different degrees of attachment to the labor market are constructed. Inferences about the extent and changes in earnings inequality are sensitive to alternative labor supply definitions especially in the case of wives.

Suggested Citation

  • Pencavel, John, 2006. "Earnings Inequality and Market Work in Husband-Wife Families," IZA Discussion Papers 2235, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2235

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeremy Lise & Shannon Seitz, 2011. "Consumption Inequality and Intra-household Allocations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 328-355.
    2. John Pencavel, 2006. "A Life Cycle Perspective on Changes in Earnings Inequality among Married Men and Women," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 232-242, May.
    3. Lehrer, Evelyn & Nerlove, Marc, 1981. "The Impact of Female Work on Family Income Distribution in the United States: Black-White Differentials," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(4), pages 423-431, December.
    4. Smith, James P, 1979. "The Distribution of Family Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 163-192, October.
    5. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    6. Maria Cancian & Deborah Reed, 1998. "Assessing The Effects Of Wives' Earnings On Family Income Inequality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 73-79, February.
    7. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-329, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    hours of work; earnings inequality; married women's employment-population ratios;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2235. 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). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.