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Brain versus brawn: the realization of women's comparative advantage


Petersen Rendall, Michelle (2017). Brain versus brawn: the realization of women's comparative advantage. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 491, University of Zurich.

Abstract

In the last decades the US economy experienced a rise in female labor force participation, a reversal of the gender education gap and a closing of the gender wage gap. Importantly, these changes occurred at a substantially different pace over time. During the same period, workers in the US faced a considerable shift in labor demand from more physical to more intellectual skill requirements. I rationalize these observations in the context of a general equilibrium model displaying two key assumptions: (1) the demand for brain increases both within and across education groups; and (2) women have less brawn than men. Given the observed US technical change process, the model replicates (1) over half of the narrowing gender wage gap, (2) most of the narrowing employment gap, and (3) all of the reversing education gap. Crucially, the model can also account for the time-varying-path of the narrowing gender divide with an initial stagnation and a later acceleration in female wages and education rates.

Abstract

In the last decades the US economy experienced a rise in female labor force participation, a reversal of the gender education gap and a closing of the gender wage gap. Importantly, these changes occurred at a substantially different pace over time. During the same period, workers in the US faced a considerable shift in labor demand from more physical to more intellectual skill requirements. I rationalize these observations in the context of a general equilibrium model displaying two key assumptions: (1) the demand for brain increases both within and across education groups; and (2) women have less brawn than men. Given the observed US technical change process, the model replicates (1) over half of the narrowing gender wage gap, (2) most of the narrowing employment gap, and (3) all of the reversing education gap. Crucially, the model can also account for the time-varying-path of the narrowing gender divide with an initial stagnation and a later acceleration in female wages and education rates.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:E23, I24, J16, J23, J24
Uncontrolled Keywords:Technological progress, labor demand, skills, female labor supply, gender education gap, gender wage gap, college attainment
Language:English
Date:June 2017
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 15:09
Last Modified:12 Aug 2017 12:40
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Additional Information:Revised version
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp_iew/iewwp491.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/workingpapers.php

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