Wages of power and wages of care: a source of increasing earnings inequality?

Project Summary:

There is growing evidence that wage differences between industries and firms are a primary source of contemporary wage inequality. Similarly, evidence suggests that gender segregation at the industry, occupation, and firm levels has persisted even as gender differences in human capital have declined. This project will draw a connection between the contribution of between-industry wage differences to overall wage inequality on the one hand, and occupational/industrial gender segregation and the wage penalty for care work on the other. The researchers will compare employment and wages, by gender, in the care versus financial sectors, thereby capturing the dynamics of gender by occupation in sectors that are the bookends in the structure of wages and wage inequality, tracking the extent to which the gender gap has grown or subsided in these two extreme groups.


Nancy Folbre is Professor Emerita of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research explores the interface between political economy and feminist theory, with a particular emphasis on the value of unpaid care work. In addition to numerous articles published in academic journals, she is the editor of For Love and Money: Care Work in the U.S. (Russell Sage, 2012), and the author of Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas (Oxford, 2009), Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (Harvard, 2008), and The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values (New Press, 2001). She has also written widely for a popular audience, including contributions to the New York Times Economix blog, The Nation, and the American Prospect. Her current writing on the political economy of care provision can be seen on her blog, Care Talk.

Selected Publications