This paper updates the major study by Macpherson
and Hirsch (1995) of the effect of the gender composition of occupations on
female (and male) earnings. Using large representative national samples of
employees from the Current Population Survey, cross-sectional estimates of the
impact of proportion female in an occupation (or feminization) on wages are
first provided, paying close attention to the role of occupational
characteristics. Specification differences in the effects of feminization
across alternative subsamples are examined, as well as the contribution of the
feminization argument to the explanation of the gender wage gap. An updated
longitudinal analysis using the CPS data is also provided. This examination of
two-year panels of individuals is supplemented using information from the 1979
National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which has the advantage of offering a
longer panel. Analysis of the former suggests the reduction in gender
composition effects observed for females in cross section with the addition of
controls for occupational characteristics becomes complete after accounting for
unobserved individual heterogeneity. This is not the case for the latter
dataset, most likely reflecting heritage effects of discrimination in what is
an aging cohort.
JEL Classification: J31, J71.
Keywords: occupational segregation, gender wage gap.