Family and Gender Disparities in Self-employment
Demographic Transition and Gender Gap in the Labor Market
The Countervailing Implication of the Second Gender Revolution Among College Graduates in the US
The decline of gender gaps in the US labor market has stagnated, especially among the highly educated. This paper focuses on family formation, which here is defined as one being a parent or in a marriage. The family has been identified as an increasingly important factor in sustaining the gender earnings gap. At the same time, in line with the Second Gender Revolution thesis, highly educated women have displayed the slowest rates of decline in marriage and fertility, rendering them the most likely to be situated within familial contexts.
This paper bridges these two lines of trend and literature and assesses the extent to which college graduates' (especially women's) changes in the family are associated with the stagnation of the gender employment, earnings, and hourly wages gap from the early 1980s to the late 2010s. Using a decomposition of change, I show that had the family formation patterns of college-educated women and men remained unchanged since the 1980s, the gender employment gap would have shown the most pronounced narrowing among the three outcomes, with an additional 14% reduction. Although the overall association of family change with the gender earnings and wages gaps is more modest (at 7% and 1%, respectively), a closer examination of the detailed decomposition calls for a more nuanced interpretation.
Results demonstrate 1) the importance of the underlying demographic trends on the gender gaps in the labor market, 2) different implications on various outcomes, and 3) the usefulness of the detailed decomposition analyses.
Transition to Parenthood
The Devaluation of Women's Work and the Relative Earnings of New Parents
(Kelly Musick & Wonjeong Jeong, R&R)
In this paper, we draw from gender perspectives on the division of labor and emerging research on structural sexism and health to conceptualize and operationalize state-level gender inequality and how it shapes within-couple inequality in earnings following the transition to parenthood.
We use successive couple-level panels over four decades from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and merge the earnings changes of both partners’ around the time of first birth to state-level measures that tap the devaluation of work done by women. These include motherhood wage and employment penalties, lower pay for female-dominated occupations, disapproval of working mothers, and weaker political representation of women.
Results from fixed effect models show that state-level gender inequality shapes couples’ responses to birth, with steeper declines in wives’ relative earnings among new parents living in states that place lower value on women’s work. We find little evidence of variation in this process across more or less advantaged subgroups of the population, by child age, or over time. Wives’ relative earnings decline after childbirth, and structural sexism exacerbates earnings inequality among parents, with implications for mothers’ economic vulnerability and well-being.
Gender Norm vs. Policy
When Gender Norms Don’t Match Institutions: Her Earnings Share Change after First Birth in Korea
(w/ Hyo Joo Lee, working paper)
‘Living Gender’: Examining the Gendered Allocation of Household Space
(w/ Cody Arlie Reed, in progress)
In this work, we explore the relationship between gendered allocation of household space and disparities in household activities performed by women and men. Building on existing literature, this study will examine household space as a medium for moderating gendered activities. We will use a novel survey design, using a 2-dimensional blueprint of a two-story house, to prompt respondents to envision their ideal household space and describe its use in relation to gendered activities.
** this work is supported by the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University (2023-2024)