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You're the one that I want! Public sector employment and women's labor market outcomes

16th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Labour economics

Senior Researcher : Zoe Kuhen

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


This project aims to explain why there are relatively more women than men in public sector employment. To address this question we propose to i) carry out a detailed empirical analysis of male and female labor market outcomes in the public and private sector, and to ii) propose a theoretical model that allows us to analyze the role of public sector employment for women’s labor market outcomes. Using microdata we first carry out an empirical analysis of employment, wages, hours worked, and probabilities of unemployment and inactivity for men and women in the public and private sector. In particular, we focus on four countries: Spain, France, the UK, and the US. We then propose a search and matching model where men and women decide if they want to participate in the labor market and if to search for public or private sector jobs.

Our results show that women’s preferences can explain 20% of the female bias in public employment in France, 45% in Spain, 80% in the US, and 95% in the UK. The remaining bias is linked to differences across sectors, in particular the lower gender wage gap in the public sector. This aspect can explain approximately 30% of the bias in the US and Spain and 50% in France. For France and Spain, we estimate that the possibility of better conciliation of work and family life for public sector workers also plays an important role, explaining 20% and 30% of the bias respectively. We also find that policies that increase public sector wages or employment affect unemployment and inactivity rates of women twice as much as those of men.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles -
Communications at national conferences 1
Communications at international conferences 1


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