The Cost of Being a Girl: Gender Earning Differentials in the Early Labor Markets
Abstract

The gender wage gap is among the most persistent and durable characteristics of labor markets and women’s lives. Despite differences in focus, almost all studies of the gender wage gap focus on the adult labor market; however, almost every teenager in the United States works before adulthood. Therefore, an overwhelming majority of the population experiences the labor market, and possibly the gender wage gap, well beforehand. This article focuses on the early labor market experiences of youth and analyzes the gender differentials in earning in the youth labor market. The findings show there are no gender differences in wages for twelve- to thirteen-year-old youths. However, we see the emergence of the gender wage gap around fourteen, which widens with age. The wage differential in the early labor market is explained mostly by occupational factors such as types of jobs in which boys and girls are employed. In this way, the “cost of being a girl” still remains.


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