Occupational Sex Segregation and Wages in the United States: Devaluation, Human Capital, or Knowledge Requirement?

Yuk Leong Hung, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Over the past 30 years, the devaluation of women’s work in the United States has received much attention in the literature on gender inequality. On the one hand, because general human capital is poorly measured, the debate on whether there is a true devaluation effect remains unsettled. On the other hand, previous studies fail to take supply-side factor into account. For example, more men than women invest in more remunerative knowledge such as engineering because of horizontal segregation in postsecondary education. Merging Occupational Information Network (O*NET) with the job tenure supplements of the January 2012 Current Population Survey (CPS), this study not only retests the devaluation theory with better human capital measures, but also shows that the knowledge requirement in engineering and technology, as a supply-side factor, is the key to explain why workers in female occupations receive lower wages.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity