DP18825 Brain versus Brawn: The Realisation of Women’s Comparative Advantage
In the last decades, the US has seen narrowing gender employment, wage, and education gaps. The labor market has also faced a shift from physical (“brawn”) to intellectual (“brain”) skill requirements. I rationalize this in a general equilibrium model using two key assumptions: (1) brain occupational requirements increase across education groups and within non-college occupations, and (2) women have less brawn than men. Skill requirements provide the micro foundation for gender-productivity differences in the economy missing in most studies. With technical change and changing skill requirements, the model replicates a reversal of the gender education gap and three-quarters of the closing wage gap.