Career Choice, Marriage-Timing, and the Attraction of Unequals

35 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2005

See all articles by Sylvain Dessy

Sylvain Dessy

Université Laval - Département d'Économique

Habiba Djebbari

Université Laval - Département d'Économique; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 2005

Abstract

Both men and women wish to have a family and a rewarding career. In this paper, we show that the under-representation of women in high-powered professions may reflect a coordination failure in young women's marriage-timing decisions. Since investing in a high-powered career imposes time strain, it precludes early participation in the marriage market. Delayed participation in the marriage market has a higher cost for women than for men because women have shorter fecundity horizons. Marriage prospects of high-powered women depend on the marriage-timing decisions of younger women. Under these assumptions, we show that women's marriage-timing decisions exhibit strategic complementarities. Coordination failures in women's marriage-timing decisions lead to persisting gender differences in career choices. Yet, differential fecundity is only necessary, but not sufficient to obtain gender inequality in high-powered professions. We discuss social changes that solve the coordination failure while achieving a Pareto-improvement in the society at large.

Keywords: Marriage-timing, high-powered career, supermodular game, strategic complementarities, multiple equilibria, coordination failure

JEL Classification: J12, J16, J24

Suggested Citation

Dessy, Sylvain and Djebbari, Habiba, Career Choice, Marriage-Timing, and the Attraction of Unequals (April 2005). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1561; CIRPEE Working Paper No. 05-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=692142

Sylvain Dessy

Université Laval - Département d'Économique ( email )

2325 Rue de l'Université
Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4 G1K 7P4
Canada

Habiba Djebbari (Contact Author)

Université Laval - Département d'Économique ( email )

2325 Rue de l'Université
Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4 G1K 7P4
Canada

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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