The Geography of Jobs and the Gender Wage Gap
65 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 8, 2020
Prior studies have shown that women are more willing to trade off wages for short commutes than men. Given the gender difference in commuting preferences, we show that the wage return to commuting (i.e., the wage penalty for reducing commute time) that stems from the spatial distribution of jobs contributes to the gender wage gap. We propose a simple job choice model, which predicts that differential commuting preferences would lead to a larger gender wage gap for workers who face greater wage returns to commuting based on their locations of residence and occupations. We then show empirical evidence that validates the model's prediction. Moreover, we estimate the model components: (i) the indifference curves between wages and commutes by gender, and (ii) the wage return to commuting faced by each worker. Our model shows that differential commuting choices account for about 16-21% of the gender wage gap on average, but the contribution varies widely across residential locations. The model also shows that policies that increase commute speed or density in the central city neighborhoods could moderately lower the gender wage gap.
Keywords: Gender wage gap, commuting, spatial distribution of jobs
JEL Classification: J16, J22, J31, R12, R41
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