Exploring the spatial wage penalty for women: Does it matter where you live?


Inequality between men and women has decreased over the past four decades in the US, but wage inequality among groups of women has increased. As metropolitan women’s earnings grew by 25% over the past four decades, non-metropolitan women’s earnings only grew by 15%. In the current study we draw on data from the Current Population Survey to analyze the spatial wage gap among women. We explore differences in the spatial wage gap by education, occupation, and industry. Regression models that control for marriage, motherhood, race, education, region, age, and work hours indicate that metropolitan women earn 17% more per hour than non-metropolitan women. Non-metropolitan women earn less than metropolitan women who live in central cities and outside central cities. The gap in metropolitan-non-metropolitan wages is higher for more educated women than for less educated women. The wage gap is only 5% for women without a high school degree, but it is 15% for women with a college degree and 26% for women with an advanced degree. Non-metropolitan college graduates are overrepresented in lower-paying occupations and industries. Metropolitan college graduates, however, are overrepresented in higher-paying occupations and industries, such as professional services and finance.



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Social Science Research



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