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A Biological Basis for the Gender Wage Gap: Fecundity and Age and Educational Hypogamy

Solomon Polachek, Xu Zhang () and Xing Zhou ()
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Xu Zhang: State University of New York, Farmingdale
Xing Zhou: Nankai University

No 8570, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: This paper shows how a shorter fecundity horizon for females (a biological constraint) leads to age and educational disparities between husbands and wives. Empirical support is based on data from a natural experiment commencing before and ending after China's 1980 one-child law. The results indicate that fertility in China declined by about 1.2-1.4 births per woman as a result of China's anti-natalist policies. Concomitantly spousal age and educational differences narrowed by approximately 0.5-1.0 and 1.0-1.6 years respectively. These decreases in the typical husband's age and educational advantages are important in explaining the division of labor in the home, often given as a cause for the gender wage gap. Indeed, as fertility declined, which has been the historical trend in most developed countries, husband-wife age and educational differences diminished leading to less division of labor in the home and a smaller gender wage disparity. Unlike other models of division of labor in the home which rely on innately endogenous factors, this paper's theory is based on an exogenous biological constraint.

Keywords: homogamy; husband-wife educational gap; husband-wife age gap; age at marriage; marital patterns; gender wage gap; division of labor in the home; household economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J1 J2 J3 J43 J7 J8 N3 N9 O5 Y8 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna, nep-lab, nep-lma and nep-tra
Date: 2014-10
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Published in: Gender Convergence in the Labor Market, Research in Labor Economics, 41, 2015, 35-88.

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