College Majors, Occupations, and the Gender Wage Gap
AbstractThe paper assesses gender differences in pre-labor market specialization among the college-educated and highlights how those differences have evolved over time. Women choose majors with lower potential earnings (based on male wages associated with those majors) and subsequently sort into occupations with lower potential earnings given their major choice. These differences have narrowed over time, but recent cohorts of women still choose majors and occupations with lower potential earnings. Differences in undergraduate major choice explain a substantive portion of gender wage gaps for the college-educated above and beyond simply controlling for occupation. Collectively, our results highlight the importance of understanding gender differences in the mapping between college major and occupational sorting when studying the evolution of gender differences in labor market outcomes over time.
CitationSloane, Carolyn M., Erik G. Hurst, and Dan A. Black. 2021. "College Majors, Occupations, and the Gender Wage Gap." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 35 (4): 223-48. DOI: 10.1257/jep.35.4.223
- I23 Higher Education; Research Institutions
- I26 Returns to Education
- J16 Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
- J24 Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J31 Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials