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How long do early career decisions follow women? The impact of industry and firm size history on the gender and motherhood wage gaps

Holly Monti, Lori Reeder and Martha Stinson

Working Papers from U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies

Abstract: We add to the gender wage gap literature by considering how characteristics of past employers are correlated with current wages and whether differences between the work histories of men and women are related to the persistent gender wage gap. Our hypothesis is that women have spent less time over the course of their careers in higher paying industries and have less job- and industry-specific human capital and that these characteristics are correlated with male-female earnings differences. Additionally, we expect that difference in the work histories between women with children and childless women might help explain the observed motherhood wage gap. We use unique administrative employer history data to conduct a standard decomposition exercise to determine the impact of differences in observable job history characteristics on the gender and motherhood wage gaps. We find that industry work history has two opposing effects on both these wage gaps. The distribution of work experience across industries contributes to increasing the wage gaps, but the share of experience spent in the industry sector of the current job works to decrease earnings differences.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen and nep-hrm
Date: 2018-01
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Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:18-05