Overwork and the Slow Convergence in the Gender Gap in Wages

Youngjoo Cha, Indiana University
Kim Weeden, Cornell University

Over the last thirty years, men and women’s hourly wages continued to converge, but at ever-slower rates. Using CPS data from 1979 to 2009, we document that this slowdown in wage convergence is due, in part, to the concomitant trend toward longer work hours. When coupled with a growing wage premium for overwork (i.e., 50 hours or more per week) and a persistent gender gap in overwork, the trend toward long work hours all but offset the wage-equalizing effects of educational convergence. The overwork effect on the gender gap in wages is especially prominent in the “greedy occupations” in professions and management, where the proportion of overworkers is the highest and the gender gap in work hours the largest. These results show how ostensibly gender-neutral changes in the social organization of work can perpetuate old forms of gender inequality.

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Presented in Session 95: Race and Gender Inequality in Economic Outcomes