Occupational gender segregation and economic growth in U.S. local labor markets, 1980 through 2010

PLoS One. 2020 Jan 14;15(1):e0227615. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227615. eCollection 2020.


The exchange of diverse ideas has been shown to be a major driver of economic growth and innovation in local labor markets across the U.S. Yet, persistently high levels of occupational gender segregation pose a barrier to such exchange between women and men workers. Consistent with this, organizational sociologists have identified multiple economic benefits to gender diversity in workplaces. Yet, it is unclear whether these trends apply to local labor markets, which constitute the ecological geographic environment for firms. In this study, I use fixed effects regression models to examine the relationship between labor market levels of segregation and economic growth from 1980 through 2010. I find that gender segregation hinders the expansion of finance and technology sectors as two industries that rely on the exchange of information and innovation. Consequently, higher levels of gender segregation are also a bane to economic productivity, as measured through hourly wages. Results from this study suggest that gender equity, manifested in lower levels of occupational segregation, is a vital ingredient in the economic development of local U.S. labor markets.

MeSH terms

  • Demography
  • Economic Development / trends*
  • Employment / economics*
  • Employment / trends
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Industry / economics
  • Industry / trends
  • Male
  • Occupations / economics
  • Occupations / trends
  • Population Dynamics / trends
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexism / economics*
  • Sexism / trends
  • Social Segregation / trends
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States

Grants and funding

The author received no specific funding for this work.