Gender Differences in Job Search: Trading Off Commute Against Wage

87 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2020

Date Written: August 2020


In this paper we relate gender differences in willingness to commute to the gender wage gap. Using unique administrative data on job search criteria, we first document that unemployed women have a lower reservation wage than comparable men and that the maximum commute they are willing to accept is smaller. We also find that they get lower wages and shorter commutes in their next job. We then identify indifference curves between wage and commute using the joint distributions of reservation job attributes and of accepted job bundles. Indifference curves are steeper for women, who value commute around 20% more than men. Through the lens of a job search model where commuting matters, we estimate that around 10% of the gender wage gap is accounted for by gender differences in the willingness to pay for a shorter commute. Finally, we use job application data to test the robustness of our results and to show that female workers do not receive less demand from far-away employers, confirming that most of the gender gap in commute is supply-side driven.

Keywords: commute, gender wage gap

JEL Classification: J16, J22, J31, J64, R20

Suggested Citation

Le Barbanchon, Thomas and Rathelot, Roland and Roulet, Alexandra, Gender Differences in Job Search: Trading Off Commute Against Wage (August 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15181, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Le Barbanchon (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

Roland Rathelot

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Alexandra Roulet

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

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