University of Maryland

The Macro-Level Effect of Occupational Integration

Cotter, David A., JoAnn M. DeFiore, Joan M. Hermsen, Brenda Marsteller Kowalewski, and Reeve Vanneman. 1997. "All Women Benefit: The Macro-Level Effect of Occupational Integration on Gender Earnings Equality" American Sociological Review. 62 (October): 714-734.


Macro-level processes transfer many of the income benefits of occupational integration to all women in the labor market, not just to those women who enter predominantly male (and therefore high-paying) occupations. We investigate these macro-level effects in a multi-level model comparing 261 metropolitan area labor markets. We find that occupational integration is strongly associated with gender earnings equality, even after extensive individual- and macro-level controls are introduced. The size of the association implies that the entire gender gap in earnings would be eliminated if occupational integration were complete. This macro- level estimate is far higher than the 9 percent to 38 percent estimates found in individual-level studies. Moreover, an individual-level control for the gender composition of a worker's occupation explains little of the macro-level occupational association between integration and earnings equality. Women in predominantly female occupations benefit almost as much from an integrated labor market as do women in predominantly male occupations.

Last updated September 7, 1999
comments to: Reeve Vanneman.