Gender Agenda

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Ballroom AB
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Muriel Niederle, Stanford University

Quantifying the Disincentive Effects of Joint Taxation on Married Women’s Labor Supply

Alexander Bick
Arizona State University
Nicola Fuchs-Schuendeln
Goethe University Frankfurt


We analyze the degree of jointness of taxation of married couples in the tax systems of 18 OECD countries. Joint taxation increases the effective marginal tax rate of the secondary income earner, and decreases the one of the primary income earner. Relying on a quantitative macro model of joint household decision making, and taking into account the full non-linearities in the current income tax codes, we predict the changes in hours worked of husband and wife if each country would transition from the current system of taxation to a system of strictly separate taxation of married couples, keeping government revenues constant. We find that around half of the sample countries already have a tax system featuring separate taxation. Yet, in 8 sample countries, including the US, hours of married women would increase by between 50 and 150 annual hours, and in Belgium and Germany by over 250 hours, which for Germany corresponds to an increase of 30 %. Joint taxation of married couples thus leads to significant disincentives to work for married women, which are only to a small degree counterbalanced by increased labor supply of married men.

Long Hours and Women’s Job Choices: Cross Country and Within United States Evidence

Patricia Cortes
Boston University
Jessica Pan
National University of Singapore


We examine the relationship between the prevalence of overwork (as proxied for by the share of men working 50 or more hours per week) and women's labor force participation and occupational choice. Using country-level variation across education-groups, and over time, we find a negative relationship between the prevalence of overwork and the LFP rates of young married women, with the effects being much smaller for single women and older married women. Using a panel of occupations across countries and within the US, we find that the prevalence of overwork in an occupation significantly lowers the share of married women working in that occupation, particularly those with young children. These findings are robust to controlling for the occupational distribution of groups with fewer childcare responsibilities such as males and single women. Long hours of work appear to have a much more limited effect on the occupational distribution of other groups such as single women, childless women, older females, and males, suggesting that the key channel through which the prevalence of overwork affects occupational choice is by reducing the desirability of the work environment for women with family responsibilities.

The Expanding Gender Earnings Gap: Evidence from the LEHD-Census

Claudia Goldin
Harvard University and NBER
Sari Pekkala Kerr
Wellesley College
Claudia Olivetti
Boston College and NBER
Erling Barth
Institute for Social Research and NBER


Gender pay gaps widen with age. They expand for several decades after schooling ends, more for those who are married, have children and are more educated. Some obvious reasons exist for these widening earnings gaps including the earnings penalty for mothers and for the trailing spouse. These penalties, moreover, have been shown to be larger among higher income occupations. In this paper, we explore the role of the mean wage by establishment. Using information in the LEHD from 1995 to 2008 for individuals in the 2000 US Census, we find that for college graduates the gender earnings gap expands by 34 log points and for high school graduates without a college degree it expands by 16 log points. In both cases about 45 percent is attributable to wage differences between establishments and 55 percent to differential wage growth within establishments. Men move to higher wage establishments relative to women in their 20s and early 30s and then they do better within establishments. These differences could be because lower wage establishments offer greater amenities valued by those with family responsibilities or because women are disproportionately trailing or tied spouses.

Competitiveness and Education Choices

Muriel Niederle
Stanford University


This paper relates experimental economics measures to education and labor market outcomes.
Erik Hurst
University of Chicago
JEL Classifications
  • J0 - General
  • J1 - Demographic Economics