Unformatted text preview: factors such as the MAY 2003 level of stress at work and the ability to take
unplanned time off for family emergencies are
also likely to in uence the choice of occupation
and work place. Thus, certain characteristics of
jobs may affect women’s occupational choices
because they are particularly compatible or incompatible with women’s dual home/market
roles. These adaptive occupational choices will
tend to lower the market earnings of women
relative to men.
For example, some occupations require
lengthy investment in skills with applicability
only to highly speci c market activities (e.g.,
aerospace engineer, surgeon, top management
in large complex organizations). The payoff to
such investments is obviously reduced when
years in the labor force are reduced. Moreover,
skills depreciate during periods of withdrawal
from work (Jacob Mincer and Haim Ofek,
1982), and the rate of depreciation is likely to
vary depending on the rate of technological
change and obsolescence of the skills acquired.
Fields such as physics, where knowledge depreciates rapidly have disproportionately fewer
women. Other types of schooling and training
are more general in their applicability to different situations and impart skills that are less
prone to depreciate. For example, nursing and
teaching skills are valuable to mothers and can
be practiced widely in different settings with
relatively little additional rm-speci c training.
Certain characteristics of the workplace are
more compatible with women’s home responsibilities than others. The depreciation in skills
and earnings related to complete withdrawal
from the labor force may be ameliorated by
work situations that accommodate the need for
less demanding work while raising a family.
Part-time work is the most obvious manifestation of this adjustment. Even if a woman does
not always work part-time she may be more
likely to choose an occupation or job setting that
provides a shorter or more exible work week
in the event it may be needed, or a more informal work setting where time off for unpredictable events is acceptable.
Both work attachment and the choice of occupation are expected to be important determinants of women’s earnings and important
factors underlying the gender wage gap. In the
analysis discussed below I incorporate measures and proxies for these factors. I examine ...... 3 16 Nicole M. Fortin and Tammy Schirle mid-lower tail of the distribution in 1997. That kind of shift has been identified in Fortin and Lemieux (2000) as the result of the decline in unionization over that period.
As a result of women’s relative earnings gains, women’s median earnings
and wages have been steadily catching up to men’s. Figure 11.2 indicates that
the ratio of median female earnings to median male earnings has increased
steadily over the 1980s and 1990s. As expected, the female/male hourly wage
ratio for the sample of workers with one year or more of job tenure is consistently higher (reaching the 75 to 80 percent range in the late 1990s) than the
annual earnings ratio for the sample of full-time, full-year workers, which
reaches the 70 to 75 percent rang...
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