This paper explores links between women's economic progress and widening inter-industry wage differentials. Each phenomenon arises because of technological change that has favored young women's human capital, in what is called sex-biased technological change. Such technological change helps lower the costs of women of bringing their abilities to the market, enabling more of them to gravitate to the high-tech sector, shifting the relative skill supply. Our theory can simultaneously rationalize the facts on increasing female wages and their participation in the high-tech sector, wage premium favoring the high-tech sector, and female to male wage ratios. Our theory also predicts an amplification of the selection effect on gender difference in productivity in the high-tech sector.
We use workers' skill indexes given by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to determine technology sectors. Results based on state-level data indicate the elasticity of substitution between high and low-skill workers is around 2. We provide evidence in favor of sector participation and wage patterns predicted by our model. The allocative impact of sex-biased technological change is 8 to 10 times larger than the wage effect. The results are robust for all measures of patent innovation.
sector choice, directed technological change, gender wage gap
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