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Atlanta Fed Working Papers


The Role of Labor Market Intermittency in Explaining Gender Wage Differentials

Julie L. Hotchkiss and M. Melinda Pitts
Working Paper 2007-1
February 2007

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Using the Health and Retirement Survey and standard wage decomposition techniques, this paper finds that the difference in intermittent labor force participation between men and women accounts for 47 percent of the contribution to the wage gap of differences in observed characteristics. Not controlling for intermittent behavior results in too much importance being placed on gender differences in job characteristics.

JEL classification: J31, J22

Key words: gender wage differentials, Oaxaca decomposition, intermittent labor supply, time allocation


The authors gratefully acknowledge the research assistance of M. Laurel Graefe and Navnita Sarma. They also thank Angela Dills 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 Julie L. Hotchkiss, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309-4470, julie.l.hotchkiss@atl.frb.org, or M. Melinda Pitts, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309-4470, melinda.pitts@atl.frb.org.

For further information, contact the Public Affairs Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30309-4470, 404-498-8020.