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Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends Among Less-Skilled Workers

  • Rebecca M. Blank
  • Heidi Shierholz

In contrast to less-skilled men, less-skilled women have experienced growing labor force involvement and moderate wage increases. Compared to more-skilled women, less-skilled women have fallen behind. We investigated the reasons behind these trends in labor force participation and wages for male and female workers of different skill levels over the past 25 years, from 1979-2004. We find that less-skilled women have found themselves in an 'intermediate' place in the labor market. Like less-skilled men, they experienced deteriorating returns to education but, unlike the men, they benefited from a growing positive impact of accumulated experience on labor market outcomes. More-skilled women experienced both growing returns to education and greater accumulation of experience, leading to faster wage growth. In addition, at the same time that experience levels have grown, the returns to experience on wages and labor force participation have also risen among less-skilled women, while the returns to experience have declined among less-skilled men. The negative effect of children and marital status on wages and labor force participation has also declined markedly among women of all skill levels.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12494.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12494.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Publication status: published as Blank, Rebecca M., Sheldon H. Danziger, and Robert F. Schoeni (eds.) Working and Poor: How Economic and Policy Changes Are Affecting Low-Wage Workers, National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12494
Note: LS
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  1. Hilary Hoynes, 1999. "The Employment, Earnings, and Income of Less Skilled Workers Over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  3. Juhn, Chinhui & Kim, Dae Il, 1999. "The Effects of Rising Female Labor Supply on Male Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 23-48, January.
  4. Kenneth R Troske & Kimberly N Bayard & Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark, 1998. "New Evidence On Sex Segregation And Sex Differences In Wages From Matched Employee-Employer Data," Working Papers 98-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  6. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. 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.
  8. Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogenous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Dataset," Working Papers 04-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-77, June.
  10. Finis Welch, 2000. "Growth in Women's Relative Wages and in Inequality among Men: One Phenomenon or Two?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 444-449, May.
  11. Thomas Lemieux & Nicole M. Fortin, 2000. "Are Women's Wage Gains Men's Losses? A Distributional Test," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 456-460, May.
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