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The Service Sector and Female Market Work: Europe vs US

Listed author(s):
  • Michelle Rendall

    (University of Zurich)

Aggregate market hours differ dramatically across OECD countries. However, disaggregated by sex differences in market hours do not necessarily match aggregate market hour differences. Continental Europe has seen a smaller rise in formal female employment compared with the United States or Scandinavia. Additionally, Continental Europe has a substantially smaller service sector. These facts coincide with job requirements shifting from physical strength to intellectual abilities. This paper gives empirical evidence on why women predominately work in the service sector. Given the empirical evidence, a model where technical change favoring women, by increasing the service sector, drives female employment is developed. The key is households can produce a substitute for market services and women are, on average, less productive in sectors requiring more brawn, giving them a comparative advantage with respect to staying home and working in the service sector. Therefore, an economy that does not facilitate the movement of women into the labor market, by imposing high taxes, causes service production to remain at home. This reduces the demand for market services, which feeds back into low total hours worked by women (and the total economy). Subsidies to female employment can circumvent the high tax effect, but will lead to welfare loses.

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File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2011/paper_778.pdf
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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 778.

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Date of creation: 2011
Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:778
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2007. "Gender Roles and Technological Progress," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2007-029, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  2. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
  3. Todd Schoellman, 2009. "The Occupations and Human Capital of U.S. Immigrants," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2009_19, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
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  10. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
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  12. Larry E. JONES & Rodolfo E. MANUELLI & Ellen R. McGRATTAN, 2015. "Why Are Married Women Working so much ?," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 75-114, March.
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  14. Margarida Duarte & Diego Restuccia, 2009. "The Role of the Structural Transformation in Aggregate Productivity," Working Papers tecipa-348, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  15. Michelle Rendall, 2010. "Brain versus Brawn: The Realization of Women's Comparative Advantage," 2010 Meeting Papers 926, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Structural Transformation and the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12889, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
  18. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006.
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