Fecundity and Wife Age and Educational Hypogamy: A Biological Basis for the Gender Wage Gap.

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IZA Research Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 15.12.2009, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Solomon Polachek (Binghamton University, New York)


This paper models how a longer fecundity horizon for males than females leads to age and educational differences between husbands and wives. Empirical support is given first based on cross-national data from over 60 countries, second based on US data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, third based on historical Swedish data from the 18th and 19th centuries, and fourth based on data from a natural experiment commencing before and ending after China’s 1980 one-child law. Each implies slightly over a ½ year bigger husband age advantage and about a 1/3 year larger husband schooling advantage for each extra child. These husband-wife age and educational differences are important to explain the division of labor in the home often given as a cause for differential male and female human capital investments which result in the gender wage gap.

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