Brain versus Brawn: The Realization of Women's Comparative Advantage

University of Zurich, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, Working Paper No. 491, Revised version

42 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 Jul 2017

See all articles by Michelle Rendall

Michelle Rendall

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 28, 2017

Abstract

In the last decades the US economy experienced a rise in female labor force participation, a reversal of the gender education gap and a closing of the gender wage gap. Importantly, these changes occurred at a substantially different pace over time. During the same period, workers in the US faced a considerable shift in labor demand from more physical to more intellectual skill requirements. I rationalize these observations in the context of a general equilibrium model displaying two key assumptions: (1) the demand for brain increases both within and across education groups; and (2) women have less brawn than men. Given the observed US technical change process, the model replicates (1) over half of the narrowing gender wage gap, (2) most of the narrowing employment gap, and (3) all of the reversing education gap. Crucially, the model can also account for the time-varying-path of the narrowing gender divide with an initial stagnation and a later acceleration in female wages and education rates.

Keywords: Technological progress, labor demand, skills, female labor supply, gender education gap, gender wage gap, college attainment

JEL Classification: E23, I24, J16, J23, J24

Suggested Citation

Rendall, Michelle, Brain versus Brawn: The Realization of Women's Comparative Advantage (June 28, 2017). University of Zurich, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, Working Paper No. 491, Revised version. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1635251 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1635251

Michelle Rendall (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zürich
Switzerland

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
321
Abstract Views
1,581
rank
97,214
PlumX Metrics