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The Gender Earnings Gap among College-Educated Workers

Linda Loury

ILR Review, 1997, vol. 50, issue 4, 580-593

Abstract: The gender earnings gap among full-time workers narrowed substantially in the 1980s. Previous research has established that increases in the amount of and returns to work experience and schooling among women were primarily responsible for that trend. This paper, which uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 and the High School and Beyond Senior Cohort (Class of 1980), examines to what extent college schooling characteristics other than number of years, such as grades and major field, contributed to the narrowing of the gap. Changes in the estimated effects of college grades and college major, the author finds, can account for almost all of the large decline in the gender earnings gap between 1979 and 1986 among young college-educated workers. Most of this effect apparently resulted from growth in the market price of women's skills relative to men's for a given major.

Date: 1997
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