Gender Gaps in Time Use and Earnings: What's Norms Got to Do With It?

Gender Gaps in Time Use and Earnings: What's Norms Got to Do With It?

Working Paper 54
Published: Mar 27, 2017
Publisher: Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research

Nan L. Maxwell

Nathan Wozny

Researchers have speculated that some portion of the gender differences in earnings lies in societal norms. This research assesses the extent to which norms related to behaviors at home and work and to parenting might affect gender differences in time allocation, earnings, and employment. It estimates the influence of norms using data from the American Community Survey and American Time Use Survey and four groups of demographically matched individuals with relatively homogeneous within-group need for production: singles without children, single parents, married couples without children, and married parents. Our results provide evidence that norms might be an important component of gender gaps in time use, earnings, and employment. Their importance suggests that policies designed to reduce the gender gaps in time use and in earnings might not be successful unless they address the norms that govern how women and men should behave at home and work.

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