Thursday, 11 April 2013

Do psychosocial traits help explain gender segregation in young people's occupations?

an article by Heather Antecol (Claremont McKenna College, USA and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Germany) and Deborah A. Cobb-Clark (Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Germany and University of Melbourne, Australia) published in Labour Economics Volume 21 (April 2013)


This paper investigates the role of psychosocial traits in the occupational segregation of young workers entering the U.S. labour market.

We find entry into male-dominated fields of study and male-dominated occupations are both related to the extent to which individuals have “masculine” traits and believe they are intelligent, while entry into male-dominated occupations is also related to the willingness to work hard, impulsivity, and the tendency to avoid problems.

The nature of these relationships differs for men and women, however.

Psychosocial traits (self-assessed intelligence and impulsivity) also influence movement into higher-paid occupations, but in ways that are similar for men and women. On balance, psychosocial traits provide an important, though incomplete, explanation for segregation in the fields that young men and women study as well as in the occupations in which they are employed.


► We study the effect of psychosocial traits on occupational segregation among labour market entrants.
► These traits affect entry into male-dominated fields of study (occupations) differentially by gender.
► Psychosocial traits also affect entry into higher-paid occupations in similar ways for men and women.

JEL classification: J24, J16, J31

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