We document that U.S. employment polarization in the 1980-2008 period is largely generated by women. Female employment shares increase both at the bottom and at the top of the skill distribution, generating the typical U-shape polarization graph, while male employment shares decrease in a more similar fashion along the whole skill distribution. We show that a canonical model of skill-biased technological change augmented with a gender dimension, an endogenous market/home labor choice and a multi-sector environment accounts well for gender and overall employment polarization. The model also accounts for the absence of employment polarization during the 1960-1980 period and broadly reproduces the different evolution of employment shares across decades during the 1980-2008 period. The faster growth of skill-biased technological change since the 1980s accounts for most of the employment polarization generated by the model.
Job polarization gender skill-biased technological change home production