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Title: Essays in the Economics of Gender
Authors: Shen, Jenny
Advisors: Currie, Janet M.
Kuziemko, Ilyana
Contributors: Economics Department
Subjects: Economics
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This collection of essays investigates the nature of gender in the economy. Chapters 1 and 2 explore educational assortative matching in family formation, starting with an overview of existing measurement tools. Using a simulation exercise, Chapter 1 shows that existing measurement tools fail to account for mechanical increases in assortativeness that arise from a changing gender gap in educational attainment. It proposes a new measure of educational assortative matching, the Perfect-Random normalization, which introduces the concept of a theoretical maximum level of assortativeness, given by the mismatch in men’s and women’s education distributions. In Chapter 2, I measure trends in assortative matching among all new parents using an administrative dataset of births in the U.S. Existing work has primarily measured trends in assortative matching among married couples because of data constraints, but couples are increasingly eschewing marriage, posing a sample selection challenge. I find that sorting among all new parents has been higher than sorting among married parents since 1990. Chapter 3, co-authored with Ilyana Kuziemko, Jessica Pan, and Ebonya Washington, examines the empirical puzzle of why women’s labor force participation rates have stalled, despite women’s increasing investment in human capital. We propose a hypothesis to reconcile these two trends: that when they are making key human capital decisions, women in modern cohorts underestimate the impact of motherhood on their future labor supply. Using an event-study framework, we show substantial and persistent employment effects of motherhood in U.K. and U.S. data. We then provide evidence that women do not anticipate these effects. Upon becoming parents, women (and especially more educated women) adopt more negative views toward female employment (e.g., they are more likely to say that women working hurts family life), suggesting that motherhood serves as an information shock to their beliefs. We then look at longer horizons—are young women’s expectations about future labor supply correct when they make their key educational decisions? In fact, female high school seniors are increasingly and substantially overestimating the likelihood they will be in the labor market in their thirties, a sharp reversal from previous cohorts who substantially underestimated their future labor supply.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics

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