Re-Thinking the Two-Body Problem: The Segregation of Women into Geographically Dispersed Occupations
Benson, Alan. 2014. Re-thinking the two-body problem: The segregation of women into geographically dispersed occupations. Demography: 41(4).
36 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2011 Last revised: 3 Dec 2014
Empirical research on the family cites the tendency for couples to relocate for husbands’ careers as evidence against the gender-neutrality of household economic decisions. For these studies, occupational segregation is a concern because occupations are not random by sex and mobility is not random by occupation. I find the tendency for households to relocate for husbands’ careers is better-explained by the segregation of women into geographically-dispersed occupations rather than by the direct prioritization of men’s careers. Among never-married workers, women relocate for work less-often than men and the gender effect disappears after accounting for occupational segregation. While most two-earner families feature husbands in geographically-clustered jobs involving frequent relocation for work, families are no-less-likely to relocate for work when it belongs to the wife. I conclude future research in household mobility should treat occupational segregation occurring prior to marriage rather than gender bias within married couples as the primary explanation for the prioritization of husbands’ careers in household mobility decisions.
Keywords: Household Mobility, Job Search, Occupational Segregation
JEL Classification: J1, J6
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation