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A Biological Basis for the Gender Wage Gap: Fecundity and Age and Educational Hypogamy

Author

Listed:
  • Polachek, Solomon

    () (Binghamton University, New York)

  • Zhang, Xu

    () (State University of New York, Farmingdale)

  • Zhou, Xing

    () (Nankai University)

Abstract

This paper shows how a shorter fecundity horizon for females (a biological constraint) leads to age and educational disparities between husbands and wives. Empirical support is based on data from a natural experiment commencing before and ending after China's 1980 one-child law. The results indicate that fertility in China declined by about 1.2-1.4 births per woman as a result of China's anti-natalist policies. Concomitantly spousal age and educational differences narrowed by approximately 0.5-1.0 and 1.0-1.6 years respectively. These decreases in the typical husband's age and educational advantages are important in explaining the division of labor in the home, often given as a cause for the gender wage gap. Indeed, as fertility declined, which has been the historical trend in most developed countries, husband-wife age and educational differences diminished leading to less division of labor in the home and a smaller gender wage disparity. Unlike other models of division of labor in the home which rely on innately endogenous factors, this paper's theory is based on an exogenous biological constraint.

Suggested Citation

  • Polachek, Solomon & Zhang, Xu & Zhou, Xing, 2014. "A Biological Basis for the Gender Wage Gap: Fecundity and Age and Educational Hypogamy," IZA Discussion Papers 8570, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8570
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Thomas Diprete & Claudia Buchmann, 2006. "Gender-specific trends in the value of education and the emerging gender gap in college completion," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(1), pages 1-24, February.
    6. Ken Burdett & Randall Wright, 1998. "Two-Sided Search with Nontransferable Utility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 220-245, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde & Irene van Staveren, 2018. "Identifying Age Penalty in Women's Wages: New Method and Evidence from Germany 1984-2014," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201803, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    2. Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde & Irene van Staveren, 2017. "Identifying Age Penalty in Women's Wages: New Method and Evidence from Germany 1984-2014," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 956, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Joanna Tyrowicz & Lucas van der Velde & Irene van Staveren, 2015. "Differences in the Estimates of Gender Wage Gap Over The Life Cycle," Working Papers 2015-29, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    homogamy; husband-wife educational gap; husband-wife age gap; age at marriage; marital patterns; gender wage gap; division of labor in the home; household economics;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J43 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Agricultural Labor Markets
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J8 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N9 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • Y8 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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