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Firm Sorting, Field of Study, and the Gender Earnings Gap

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A growing body of evidence shows that differences in firm-specific pay premiums account for a large share of the gender pay gap. This paper asks how a common form of pre-labor market skill specialization, college major, mediates access to high-paying firms, and what this means for the gender earnings gap. Using employer-employee tax data from Chile matched to educational records, we show that differences in college major account for more than two-thirds of the firm contribution to the gender earnings gap among college admits. Degrees in Technology, which are numerous, male-dominated, and associated with high firm premiums, drive these effects.


Seth is an Associate Professor of Economics at Yale SOM, a Faculty Research Fellow at NBER and a Research Fellow at IZA. His research focuses on economics, public finance, and household finance, with a focus on the economics of education.


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