Project Director: Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D.
Funded by: The Russell Sage Foundation
This study focuses on understanding the dynamics of gender earnings and employment gaps with age and career experience in the U.S. With colleagues at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D., will use a large dataset to explore many of the important features of and reasons for the widening (and subsequent narrowing) of the gender earnings gap with age. A unique matched employer-household panel will be created to study the impact of marriage, children, and geographic mobility during 1991-2014, enabling the research team to follow individuals within and between firms, and across geographic locations.
Despite decades of progress for women, the official gender earnings gap in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is around 20 percent (at the median for full-time workers). But the 20 percent figure is an average and the gender earnings gap changes across the life-cycle, starting small after education is completed and widening with family formation, particularly for those with more education. Facts concerning the widening, as well as some of its causes, have been extensively explored across the social sciences. Less discussed is that the gender earnings gap narrows after middle-age, an issue of great relevance now as women have been working far more into their sixties and beyond. This research will broaden and deepen researchers’ understanding of the gender earnings gap by following couples, not just individuals, across time and surrounding critical events.