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Investment in human capital and gender wage differences: evidence from the NLSY

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This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) to investigate gender differences in returns to various forms of human capital. Since the NLSY includes relatively detailed information regarding on- and off-the-job training, we place special emphasis on measuring gender differences in the incidence of and returns to formal post-school training. Also considered is the role of nonhuman capital factors such as industry and occupation in explaining the wage gap. It is found that about 60% of the gender wage gap in the sample is explained by mean differences in individual characteristics and market circumstances. This suggests a smaller role for discrimination in explaining the wage gap than previous research has found. The research indicates that training does not affect the gender wage gap. Also it is found that there is no statistically significant difference in the rate of return to other measures of human capital for women versus men. Our research suggests that the largest factors contributing to the wage gap are differences in the stocks of human capital for men and women, and differences in the distributions of men and women across industries and occupations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2001

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