Marriage Market Signaling and Women’s Occupation Choice
81 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2022
Date Written: November 18, 2021
Despite the general closure of gender disparities in the labor market over the past half century, occupational segregation has been stubbornly persistent. I develop a new model that explains these occupational outcomes through marriage market signaling. Vertically differentiated men have preference over women’s unobservable caregiving ability. Heterogenous women choose caregiving occupations to signal their ability to be caregivers. My model generates unique predictions on the influence of marriage market conditions on women’s occupational choices. I find empirical support for these predictions using longitudinal data on marriage rates, policy shocks to divorce laws, and shocks to the marriage market sex ratio driven by waves of immigration.
Keywords: Marriage, Women, Occupation Choice, Signaling
JEL Classification: D82, J12, J13, J16, J24
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