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The Gender Pay Gap and its Determinants across the Human Capital Distribution

Ariel J. Binder, Amanda Eng, Kendall Houghton and Andrew Foote

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

Abstract: This paper leverages a unique linkage between American Community Survey data and postsecondary transcript records to examine how the gender pay gap, and its proximate determinants, varies across the distribution of education credentials in the 15 years following graduation. Although recent literature focuses on career disparities between the highest-educated women and men, we find evidence that the pay gap is smaller at higher education levels. Field-of-degree and occupation effects explain most of the gap among top bachelor’s graduates, while labor supply and unobserved channels matter more for less-competitive bachelor’s, associate’s, and certificate graduates. This heterogeneity in gap levels and mechanisms is especially large in the first decade following graduation. Our results suggest that contemporary early-career gender inequality lacks a unified explanation and requires different policy interventions for different subgroups. More research is needed to understand the larger unexplained gender pay gap among less-educated individuals.

Keywords: gender pay gap; postsecondary transcript records; college selectivity; human capital; field and occupation choice; labor supply (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I24 I26 J16 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 33 pages
Date: 2023-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen, nep-hrm and nep-lma
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Downloads: (external link) First version, 2023 (application/pdf)

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