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Sex Discrimination and Women's Labor Market Interruptions

  • David Neumark

The human capital explanation of sex differences in wages is that women intend to work in the labor market more intermittently than men, and therefore invest less. This lower investment leads to lower wages and wage growth. The alternative "feedback" hypothesis consistent with the same facts is that women experience labor market discrimination and respond with career interruptions and specialization in household production. This paper explores the relationship between self-reported discrimination and subsequent labor market interruptions to test this alternative hypothesis, attempting to remove biases associated with using data on self-reported discrimination. The paper provides evidence consistent with the feedback hypothesis. Working women who report experiencing discrimination are significantly more likely subsequently to change employers, and to have additional children (or a first child). On the other hand, women who report experiencing discrimination, and who consequently have a greater tendency for career interruptions of these types, do not subsequently have lower wage growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4260.

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Date of creation: Jan 1993
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Publication status: published as With Michele McLennan, published as "Sex Discrimination and Women's Labor Market Outcomes", IR, Vol. 34, no. 4 (1995): 713-740.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4260
Note: LS
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  1. O'Neill, June, 1985. "The Trend in the Male-Female Wage Gap in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S91-116, January.
  2. Richard B. Freeman, 1977. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," NBER Working Papers 0225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Even, William E, 1990. "Sex Discrimination in Labor Markets: The Role of Statistical Evidence: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 287-89, March.
  4. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  5. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polachek, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 76-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1990. "Marriage, Motherhood, and Wages," NBER Working Papers 3473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Barbezat, Debra A & Hughes, James W, 1990. "Sex Discrimination in Labor Markets: The Role of Statistical Evidence: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 277-86, March.
  8. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
  9. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  10. Gronau, Reuben, 1988. "Sex-Related Wage Differentials and Women's Interrupted Labor Careers--The Chicken or the Egg," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 277-301, July.
  11. Kuhn, Peter J, 1990. "Sex Discrimination in Labor Markets: The Role of Statistical Evidence: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 290-97, March.
  12. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  13. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polacheck, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 397-431 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters, in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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