Examining the Gender Earnings Gap: Occupational Differences and the Life Course

Jennifer Cheeseman Day, U.S. Census Bureau
Barbara Downs, U.S. Census Bureau

Historically, women have earned less than their male counterparts. By 2005, the earnings ratio had reached only 77 percent even though the proportion of female full-time, year-round workers with at least a bachelor's degree was at parity with men. Many authors suggest that much of the gender earnings gap persists due to differences in child rearing costs. For women, these costs translate into both losses of human capital--job experience--and to their seeking out flexible, usually lower paying, jobs more compatible with childrearing. This analysis explores earnings gap differences between men and women by occupation. Using the 2005 American Community Survey, we examine by occupation the earnings differences between men and women and the impact of parenthood on their earnings. This study explores whether some occupations exact less of a child rearing penalty than others.

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Presented in Poster Session 5