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Atlanta Fed Working Papers


Female Labor Force Intermittency and Current Earnings: A Switching Regression Model with Unknown Sample Selection

Julie L. Hotchkiss and M. Melinda Pitts
Working Paper 2003-33
December 2003

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Using the Health and Retirement Survey, this paper finds a 16 percent selectivity-corrected wage penalty among women who engage in intermittent labor market activity. This penalty is experienced at a low level of intermittent activity but appears not to play an important role in a woman’s decision to undertake such activity. In addition, employer preferences appear to play a larger role than human capital atrophy in the determination of the wage penalty.

JEL classification: J22, J31, C30

Key words: intermittent participation, wage, gender differentials


The authors gratefully acknowledge Brian Armour, Eric French, Joyce Jacobsen, Robert E. Moore, and Yongsheng Xu. They also thank participants of the Federal Reserve System Microeconomics Conference, June 2-3, 2003, Chicago, for helpful comments. The views expressed here are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors’ responsibility.

Please address questions regarding content to M. Melinda Pitts, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309-4470, 404-498-7009, melinda.pitts@atl.frb.org, or Julie L. Hotchkiss, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309-4470, 404-498-8198, julie.l.hotchkiss@atl.frb.org.

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