Skills, the Gender Wage Gap, and Cities

29 Pages Posted: 29 May 2020

Date Written: March 2017


This paper links gender wage gaps with the urban wage premium. First, the study documents gender wage gaps are narrower in larger U.S. metropolitan areas in 2000 and 2010. Skill agglomerations are then considered to explain this. Specifically, if men and women employ heterogeneous skills, and these skills have differential productivities across city sizes, agglomerative forces may differentially reward men and women. Occupational data show that women are concentrated in jobs relatively more intensive in interactive and cognitive skills, while men are comparatively in physical skill‐intensive jobs. Decomposing the gender wage gap shows that explanatory factors (education, skills, and location) predict women would outearn men. Instead, agglomerative skill returns account for majority of the gap. These estimates suggest that even as women employ skills rewarded in agglomeration economies, they benefit less from agglomerations than men, resulting in the observed gap.

Suggested Citation

Bacolod, Marigee, Skills, the Gender Wage Gap, and Cities (March 2017). Journal of Regional Science, Vol. 57, Issue 2, pp. 290-318, 2017. Available at SSRN: or

Marigee Bacolod (Contact Author)

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

555 Dyer Road
Monterey, CA 93943
United States

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