IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Early Career Setbacks and Women’s Career-Family Trade-Off


  • Itzik Fadlon
  • Frederik Plesner Lyngse
  • Torben Heien Nielsen


We study how early career setbacks—in the form of worse initial job matches—have permanent labor and marriage market impacts differentially for males and females. We analyze the Danish physician labor market and exploit a randomized lottery that determines sorting into internships, which differ in the bundle of location and career opportunities they provide. Using administrative data for over fifteen years after the lottery experiment, we find that initial labor market sorting has important long-run effects on occupational choice and career trajectories for women only, which increases the gender earnings gap by 10-15 percent over the decades after graduation from medical school. We show that the differential gender sensitivity to setbacks is driven by women’s career-family trade-off, where women exhibit earlier and higher fertility and subsequently sort into more flexible but lower-paying jobs that facilitate their greater family responsibilities. Our findings have implications for policies aimed at gender equality, as they reveal how persistent gaps can arise even in settings with institutional equality of opportunity and they point to addressing family considerations and job flexibility as key channels.

Suggested Citation

  • Itzik Fadlon & Frederik Plesner Lyngse & Torben Heien Nielsen, 2020. "Early Career Setbacks and Women’s Career-Family Trade-Off," NBER Working Papers 28245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28245
    Note: EH LS PE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Shan Huang & Hannes Ullrich, 2021. "Physician Effects in Antibiotic Prescribing: Evidence from Physician Exits," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1958, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

    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:nbr:nberwo:28245. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.