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Geography, Joint Choices, and the Reproduction of Gender Inequality


American Sociological Review

Published online on


We examine the extent to which the gender wage gap stems from dual-earner couples jointly choosing where to live. If couples locate in places better suited for the man’s employment than for the woman’s, the resulting mismatch of women to employers will depress women’s wages. Examining data from Denmark, our analyses indicate that (1) Danish couples choose locations with higher expected wages for the man than for the woman, (2) the better matching of men in couples to local employers could account for up to 36 percent of the gender wage gap, and (3) the greatest asymmetry in the apparent importance of the man’s versus the woman’s potential earnings occurred among couples with young children and where the male partner accounted for a larger share of household income before the potential move.