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Abstract

This dissertation examines three dimensions of economic inequality. In the first chapter, I examine the associations between the gender earnings gap and male employment in nursing occupations in the U.S., with the approach that these two dimensions of gender equality – equality of employment, and equality of pay – could be causally associated via localized notions of comparable worth. I demonstrate a causal effect of increasing male employment on a reduction in the earnings gap in a panel framework with instrumental variable estimates. In the second chapter, with my co-author Thomas Hertz, I assess the evolution of income inequality in urban and rural areas in the U.S. from 1975-2015. We find that un- and under-employment, along with industrial restructuring, has significantly contributed to income inequality growth, and has had more pronounced effects in rural areas. In the third chapter, I examine the effect of geographical occupational agglomeration on local job-task homogenization, and in turn, local income homogenization. I find that increased geographical concentration of highly-specialized, white-collar occupations has a strong homogenizing effect on the local distribution of job-task, and in turn, a homogenizing effect on the local income distribution. These findings shed light on the extent to which production systems sort and isolate workers geographically by income level, and therefore potentially by social class.

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