Opting Out among Women with Elite Education

60 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2013 Last revised: 15 May 2013

See all articles by Joni Hersch

Joni Hersch

Vanderbilt University - Law School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 24, 2013


Whether highly educated women are exiting the labor force to care for their children has generated a great deal of media attention, even though academic studies find little evidence of opting out. This paper shows that female graduates of elite institutions have lower labor market involvement than their counterparts from less selective institutions. Although elite graduates are more likely to earn advanced degrees, marry at later ages, and have higher expected earnings, there is little difference in labor market activity by college selectivity among women without children and women who are not married. But the presence of children is associated with far lower labor market activity among married elite graduates. Most women eventually marry and have children, and the net effect is that labor market activity is on average lower among elite graduates than among those from less selective institutions. The largest gap in labor market activity between graduates of elite institutions and less selective institutions is among MBAs, with married mothers who are graduates of elite institutions 30 percentage points less likely to be employed full-time than graduates of less selective institutions.

Keywords: opting out, married women, female graduates, elite institutions, women graduates, mothers, labor market activity

JEL Classification: I21, J16, J22

Suggested Citation

Hersch, Joni, Opting Out among Women with Elite Education (April 24, 2013). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 13-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2221482 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2221482

Joni Hersch (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7717 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/bio/?pid=joni-hersch

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

HOME PAGE: http://business.vanderbilt.edu/bio/joni-hersch/

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics