Differences between Asian American and White Women in Work-Family Tradeoffs and their Consequences for Earnings

Emily Greenman, Pennsylvania State University

Asian Americans born or educated in the United States are unique among American minority groups in that they do not suffer a significant earnings disadvantage relative to whites with similar levels of human capital. Controlling for education and age, there is no significant difference in the earnings of Asian American and white men, but Asian American women have higher earnings than comparable white women. This study tests the hypothesis that Asian American women’s high relative earnings may result from their adjusting their labor force behavior less than white women in response to parenthood, leading to a greater accumulation of work experience over time. I find that Asian American women are less likely than white women to respond to parenthood with reductions in labor supply, and that furthermore their greater work experience accumulation over time explains their high rate of earnings growth.

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Presented in Session 5: Gender, Labor Force, and Earnings