Vegard Sjurseike Wiborg, Department of Economics, UiO. "Endogenous Gender Segregation"
Department seminar. Vegard Sjurseike Wiborg is a Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Economics, UiO. He will present the paper: "Endogenous Gender Segregation"
Vegard Sjurseike Wiborg
Gender segregation in the labor market may be interpreted as a signal of unobserved job characteristics if individuals believe that preferences over these characteristics vary between genders. Labor market choices of one generation of workers can then affect the next generation’s interpretation of job characteristics - and thus their choices. My first contribution is to formalize this idea in a choice model. Individuals' beliefs about gender differences in preferences allow them to infer how jobs differ on an unobservable job characteristic by observing current segregation. This inference prescribes different job choices for the majority of men and women thus rationalizing the reproduction of segregation. The second contribution is to test these predictions by means of an online experiment. I find that when there is extant uncertainty about job characteristics, subjects rely on the observed prior distribution of men and women over jobs to decide on whether to take a given job, leading to reproduction of existing patterns of segregation. Subjects’ beliefs about the relative distance between their own and men's and women’s preferences predict whether they choose the male- or female-dominated job.