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Women are increasingly putting their husband’s career before their own, a controversial new study of Harvard Business School graduates has found.

It canvassed over 25,000 male and female students, and found 40 percent of Gen X and boomer women said their spouses’ careers took priority over theirs.

The researchers also said only about 20 percent of them had planned on their careers taking a back seat when they graduated.

This gender gap  found by Robin Ely, Colleen Ammerman and Pamela Stone can be better explained by the marriage market combined with assortative mating.

1. Harvard business graduates are likely to marry each other and form power couples.

2. There tends to be an age gap between men and women in long-term relationships and marriages of say two years.

This two year age gap means that the husband as two additional years of work experience and career advancement. This is highly likely to translate into higher pay and more immediate promotional prospects.

Maximising household income would imply that the member of the household with a higher income, and greater immediate promotional prospects stay in the workforce.

It is entirely possible that women to anticipate this situation both in their subject choices and career ambitions.

Claudia Goldin found that the wage gap between male and female Harvard graduates disappears in the presence of one confounding factor.

That confounding factor is obvious: the male in the relationship earns less. When this is so, Goldin found that the female in the relationship earns pretty much as do similar male Harvard graduates, except for the fact that they work less hours per week:

We identify three proximate factors that can explain the large and rising gender gap in earnings: a modest male advantage in training prior to MBA graduation combined with rising labour market returns to such training with post-MBA experience; gender differences in career interruptions combined with large earnings losses associated with any career interruption (of six or more months); and growing gender differences in weekly hours worked with years since MBA.

Differential changes by sex in labour market activity in the period surrounding a first birth play a key role in this process. The presence of children is associated with less accumulated job experience, more career interruptions, shorter work hours, and substantial earnings declines for female but not for male MBAs.

The one exception is that an adverse impact of children on employment and earnings is not found for female MBAs with lower-earning husbands.

This sociological evidence reported in the Daily Mail is entirely consistent with the choice hypothesis and equalising differentials as the explanation for the gender wage gap. As Solomon Polachek explains:

At least in the past, getting married and having children meant one thing for men and another thing for women. Because women typically bear the brunt of child-rearing, married men with children work more over their lives than married women.

This division of labour is exacerbated by the extent to which married women are, on average, younger and less educated than their husbands.

This pattern of earnings behaviour and human capital and career investment will persist  until women start pairing off with men who are the same age or younger than them.

via Women graduates increasingly put their partner’s career first after they graduate | Daily Mail Online.

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