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CEP discussion paper
Gender Gaps and the Rise of the Service Economy
L. Rachel Ngai and Barbara Petrongolo
April 2013
Paper No' CEPDP1204:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: E24; J22; J16

Tags: gender gaps; structural transformation; marketization

This paper explains the narrowing of gender gaps in wages and market hours in recent decades by the growth of the service economy. We propose a model with three sectors: goods, services and home production. Women have a comparative advantage in the production of services in the market and at home. The growth of the services sector, in turn driven by structural transformation and marketization of home services, acts as a gender-biased demand shift and leads to a rise in women’s wages and market hours relative to men. Quantitatively, the model accounts for an important share of the observed rise in women’s relative wage and market hours and the fall in men’s market hours.

'Gender Gaps and the Rise of the Service Economy', L. Rachel Ngai and Barbara Petrongolo, American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Volume 9, No. 4, October 2017