Laura Pilossoph, Duke University

"Gender Differences in Job Search Behavior and the Gender Earnings Gap: Evidence from the Field and the Lab"


This paper investigates gender differences in the job search process, both in the field and lab. First, we collect rich information on job offers and acceptances from undergraduates of Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. We document two novel empirical facts: (1) there is a clear gender difference in the timing of job offer acceptance, with women accepting jobs substantially earlier than men, and (2) the gender earnings gap in accepted offers narrows in favor of women over the course of the job search period. To rationalize these patterns, we develop a job search model that incorporates gender differences in risk aversion and overoptimism about prospective offers. We validate the model assumptions and predictions using the survey data, and present empirical evidence that the job search patterns in the field can be partly explained by greater risk aversion displayed by women and the higher levels of overoptimism (and slower belief updating) displayed by men. Next, we replicate the findings from the field in a specially-designed laboratory experiment that features sequential job search, and provide direct evidence on the purported mechanisms. Our findings highlight the importance of risk preferences and beliefs for gender differences in job-finding behavior, and consequently, early career wage gaps among the highly-skilled.

Joint with Patricia Cortes, Jessica Pan, and Basit Zafar

Contact person: Daphné Jocelyne Skandalis