University of Maryland

"Gendered Opportunities for Work: Effects on Employment in Later Life"

Cotter, David A., Joan M. Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman. (2002) "Gendered Opportunities for Work: Effects on Employment in Later Life" Research on Aging 24 (November): 600-628.


Gender differences in employment rates in later life, while still substantial, have narrowed dramatically in the last four decades. We hypothesize that some of the gender variation in rates is a result of gendered differences in the demand for labor that is independent of the characteristics of individuals. We use multilevel models to investigate variation across local area labor markets in gender differences in employment among 56 to 66 year olds. The demand for female labor is measured as the degree to which the occupational structure of the local labor market is skewed towards typically female occupations. Areas with relatively more female occupations have lower gender differentials in full-time employment than areas where occupations are overwhelmingly male. This would suggest that some of the convergence in employment rates among the elderly in the last half century might be traced to the larger historical shift from traditionally male industrial employment to more typically female service and office employment.

Last updated April 1, 2004
comments to: Reeve Vanneman.