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Noncognative Skills, Occupational Attainment, and Relative Wages

39 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2009 Last revised: 22 Mar 2011

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

School of Economics, University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Michelle Tan

Australian National University, Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) - Economics Program

Date Written: July 16, 2009

Abstract

This paper examines whether men's and women's noncognitive skills influence their occupational attainment and, if so, whether this contributes to the disparity in their relative wages. We find that noncognitive skills have a substantial effect on the probability of employment in many, though not all, occupations in ways that differ by gender. Consequently, men and women with similar noncognitive skills enter occupations at very different rates. Women, however, have lower wages on average not because they work in different occupations than men do, but rather because they earn less than their male colleagues employed in the same occupation. On balance, women's noncognitive skills give them a slight wage advantage. Finally, we find that accounting for the endogeneity of occupational attainment more than halves the proportion of the overall gender wage gap that is unexplained.

Keywords: noncognitve skills, personality, occupation, gender wage gap, decomposition

JEL Classification: J16, J24, J31

Suggested Citation

Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. and Tan, Michelle, Noncognative Skills, Occupational Attainment, and Relative Wages (July 16, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1430718 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1430718

Deborah Cobb-Clark (Contact Author)

School of Economics, University of Sydney ( email )

Rm 370 Merewether (H04)
Sydney, NSW 2006 2008
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Michelle Tan

Australian National University, Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) - Economics Program ( email )

HC Coombs Building
Australian National University
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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