The Effects of Rising Female Labor Supply on Male Wages

Chinhui Juhn, Dae Il Kim

NBER Working Paper No. 5236
Issued in August 1995
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies Program

This paper examines the extent to which rapid increases in female labor supply contributed to rising wage inequality and to declining real wages of less skilled males during the 1980s. We find that while the male wage declines are concentrated in the 1980s, female labor supply growth slowed in the 1980s relative to the 1970s. Women also increased the relative supply of skill in the economy in the 1980s. We find these findings to be inconsistent with a simple story in which supply shifts among women have played a major role. Instead, they further support the view that demand shifts, rather than supply shifts, have been the underlying cause of declining opportunities for less skilled males and rapid inequality growth in the 1980s. We also use state and SMSA-level data to estimate cross- substitution effects between men and women of different skill types. We find weak evidence that women may be substitutes for high school dropout men and that college educated women may have contributed to wage inequality growth by being better substitutes for high school dropout men than high school graduate men. We end with some suggestive evidence that unmeasured demand shifts which favored skilled female workers over less skilled male workers may be biasing our results towards finding substitution between these two groups.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5236

Published: Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 17 (January 1999). citation courtesy of

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