Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Modern-Era Gender Gap

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Category: , |

The Iyigun Blog has a fascinating piece on the Modern-Era Gender Gap. The problem with economic interpretations of recent trends in education isn't that women have managed to obtain similar levels of education as men have, but rather that they have overtaken men. 

The point that the blog post makes (based on a paper which the blogger co-authored) is as follows:
In a world in which education garners returns both in the labor and marriage markets, women  may overtake men in schooling despite their lower market wage rate and higher amount of housework compared with men. The essence of the argument is that education can serve as a means to escape discrimination for women. In the past, when the labor market return for women was relatively lower, this higher market return was washed out by the lower returns from schooling that women received within marriage. Today, however, women participate more in the labor market and work less at home, as a result of which their returns to schooling within marriage is drastically modified. The reason is that, if women become more educated than men, some of them have to marry down to match with uneducated men. Due to spousal competition in the marriage markets, this raises the 'value' of uneducated men in all marriages. Consequently, men’s returns from schooling within marriage decline (or do not rise much) while women’s returns rise beyond the market return. With the return to education for men falling
in the marriage markets, their incentives to get educated do not rise as much as women.

Really interesting insights.  The idea that discrimination can result in 'over-education' of a group is interesting. I plan to read the paper and will report back when I do.

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