Why do competitive firms in the US provide paid parental leave (PPL)? Which firms do and to what extent? We use several firm- and individual-level data sets to answer these questions. These include the BLS-Employee Benefit Survey (EBS) for 2010 to 2018 and an extensive firm-level data collection that we compiled. Our work is undergirded by a two-period model with competitive firms whose workers vary by their optimal firm-specific training and the probability that each will remain on the job after PPL is taken. We find that firm-provided PPL has greatly increased in the last two decades and generally covers new fathers. The levels of provision differ greatly by the industry, firm size, and the degree of firm-specific training. But even the top-of-the-line firm in the US provides fewer fully paid parental weeks than does the median OECD nation.
Today, more American women than ever before stay in the workforce into their sixties and seventies. This trend emerged in the 1980s, and has persisted during the past three decades, despite substantial changes in macroeconomic conditions. Why is this so? Today’s older American women work full-time jobs at greater rates than women in other developed countries. In Women Working Longer, editors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz assemble new research that presents fresh insights on the phenomenon of working longer. Their findings suggest that education and work experience earlier in life are connected to women’s later-in-life work. Other contributors to the volume investigate additional factors that may play a role in late-life labor supply, such as marital disruption, household finances, and access to retirement benefits. A pioneering study of recent trends in older women’s labor force participation, this collection offers insights valuable to a wide array of social scientists, employers, and policy makers.
American women are working more, through their sixties and even into their seventies. Their increased participation at older ages started in the late 1980s before the turnaround in older men’s labor force participation and the economic downturns of the 2000s. The higher labor force participation of older women consists disproportionately of those working at full-time jobs. Increased labor force participation of women in their older ages is part of the general increase in cohort labor force participation. Cohort effects, in turn, are mainly a function of educational advances and greater prior work experience. But labor force participation rates of the most recent cohorts in their forties are less than those for previous cohorts. These factors may suggest that employment at older ages will stagnate or even decrease. But several other factors will be operating in an opposing direction and leads us to conclude that women are likely to continue to work even longer.
The gender earnings gap is an expanding statistic over the lifecycle. We use the LEHD Census 2000 to understand the roles of industry, occupation, and establishment 14 years after leaving school. The gap for college graduates 26 to 39 years old expands by 34 log points, most occurring in the first 7 years. About 44 percent is due to disproportionate shifts by men into higher-earning positions, industries, and firms and about 56 percent to differential advances by gender within firms. Widening is greater for married individuals and for those in certain sectors. Non-college graduates experience less widening but with similar patterns.
Pharmacy has become a highly remunerated female-majority profession with a small gender earnings gap and low earnings dispersion relative to other occupations. Using extensive surveys of pharmacists for 2000, 2004, and 2009 as well as the U.S. Census of Population, American Community Surveys and the Current Population Surveys, we explore the gender earnings gap, penalty to part-time work, demographics of pharmacists relative to other college graduates and evolution of the profession during the last half century. We conclude that technological changes increasing the substitutability among pharmacists, the growth of pharmacy employment in retail chains and hospitals, and the related decline of independent pharmacies reduced the penalty to part-time work and have contributed to the narrow gender earnings gap in pharmacy. Our findings on earnings, hours of work and the part-time work wage penalty are more consistent with a shift in technology than a shift in demand preferences on the part of workers in a model of equalizing differences. The position of pharmacist is among the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today.
Occupations are segregated by sex today, but were far more segregated in the early to mid-twentieth century. It is difficult to rationalize sex segregation and “wage discrimination” on the basis of men’s taste for distance from women in the same way differences between other groups in work and housing have been explained. Rather, this paper constructs a “pollution” theory model of discrimination in which occupations are defined by the level of a single-dimensional productivity characteristic. Because there is asymmetric information regarding the value of the characteristic of an individual woman, a new female hire may reduce the prestige of a previously all-male occupation. The predictions of the model include that occupations requiring a level of the characteristic above the female median will be segregated by sex and those below the median will be integrated. The historical record reveals numerous cases of the model’s predictions. For example in 1940 the greater is the productivity characteristic of an office and clerical occupation, the higher the occupational segregation by sex. “Credentialization” that spreads information about individual women’s productivities and shatters old stereotypes can help expunge “pollution.”
The converging roles of men and women are among the grandest advances in society and the economy in the last century. These aspects of the grand gender convergence are figurative chapters in a history of gender roles. But what must the “last” chapter contain for there to be equality in the labor market? The answer may come as a surprise. The solution does not (necessarily) have to involve government intervention and it need not make men more responsible in the home (although that wouldn’t hurt). But it must involve changes in the labor market, in particular how jobs are structured and remunerated to enhance temporal flexibility. The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours. Such change has taken off in various sectors, such as technology, science and health, but is less apparent in the corporate, financial and legal worlds.