New data and new questions in labor and household behavior

Sara Justine Solnick, University of Pennsylvania


The dissertation consists of three independent essays, each based on data collected by the author. The first chapter, "Changes In Women's Majors From Entrance To Graduation At Women's And Coeducational Colleges," compares the anticipated and final majors of 1700 students at eight women's colleges and 818 female students at seven coed colleges. I test whether women at single-sex institutions were more likely than those at coed schools to remain in traditionally male-dominated subjects and whether they were more likely to shift from traditionally female-dominated subjects. Depending on how "female-dominated major" is defined, 40% to 75% of women at women's colleges who began in such majors shifted to neutral or male-dominated fields, compared to only about 25% of women at coed schools. Approximately 22% of women at both types of school leave male-dominated majors. The second chapter, "Efficiency in Gift Exchange," was written with David Hemenway. Economists generally believe gift-giving creates deadweight loss. In Joel Waldfogel's recent paper, a survey of 58 economics students found most of their Christmas gifts valued below cost. We believe Waldfogel's sample is not representative. In our own survey, presented in this chapter, most gifts created positive value rather than a deadweight loss. The mean yield was, at minimum, greater than 2, and the median gift increased value by 11%. The differences between our findings and Waldfogel's certainly cast doubt on the generalizability of his results. The deadweight loss of Christmas be smaller than he suggests. In the third chapter, "Gender Differences in the Ultimatum Game," I explore the bargaining behavior of men and women through Ultimatum Game. Player 1 offers do not differ by the gender of Player 2 but are affected by the gender of Player 2, with men attracting higher offers. Both men and women seem to expect that female Players 2 will accept less. Players 2 choose a higher minimum acceptable offer when facing a female Player 1. Male Players 1 earned 14% more than female Players 1 and male Players 2 earned 17% more than female Players 2. Such striking differences in expectations and decisions could impact real-world bargaining.

Subject Area

Labor economics|Economics|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Educational sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Solnick, Sara Justine, "New data and new questions in labor and household behavior" (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9628008.