Discussion paper

DP15181 Gender Differences in Job Search: Trading off Commute Against Wage

In this paper we relate gender differences in willingness to commute to the gender wage gap. Using unique administrative data on job search criteria, we first document that unemployed women have a lower reservation wage than comparable men and that the maximum commute they are willing to accept is smaller. We also find that they get lower wages and shorter commutes in their next job. We then identify indifference curves between wage and commute using the joint distributions of reservation job attributes and of accepted job bundles. Indifference curves are steeper for women, who value commute around 20% more than men. Through the lens of a job search model where commuting matters, we estimate that around 10% of the gender wage gap is accounted for by gender differences in the willingness to pay for a shorter commute. Finally, we use job application data to test the robustness of our results and to show that female workers do not receive less demand from far-away employers, confirming that most of the gender gap in commute is supply-side driven.


Le Barbanchon, T, R Rathelot and A Roulet (2020), ‘DP15181 Gender Differences in Job Search: Trading off Commute Against Wage‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15181. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15181