Gendered labor market decisions among queer and straight couples Public Deposited

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  • May 15, 2019
  • Hassel, Margaret
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
  • Using data from the American Community Survey, I use gay families as a “control” for straight families to examine the degree to which gender impacts families’ choices about who stays home and who goes to work when the family has children. In most families, the person who earns a higher hourly wage works more hours, especially once the family has children. This arrangement maximizes household income. However, there are other concerns that might override this objective – one parent might prefer spending time with children or dislike their job. I find that gay parents experience an earnings gap “bump” of between $4,000 and $5,400 when they have children, characterized by the higher earning partner working about one more day per week than the low earning partner (compared to about half a day more when the couple does not have children). This is the gap we can expect when gender is no factor. When we turn to straight couples, however, it becomes clear that gender plays a role, over and above simple personal preferences also present in gay relationships. After controlling for other factors, gay couples experience a post-children bump in their earnings gap that is about 10 percentage points larger than for female-high earner straight couples, and about 10 percentage points smaller than for male-high earner straight couples. High earning women underspecialize in market production compared to what we would expect in a non-gendered relationship, and high earning men overspecialize in market production.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Lich, Stephen
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Economics
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2019
  • English

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