Honor’s Thesis

Honor’s College

ECON 4999 — Honor’s Thesis


1047678_origThis is my Honor’s thesis, which I completed in order to earn a H.B.S. in Economics from the University of Utah. I studied under the mentorship of Prof. Cihan Bilginsoy, an Economics professor at the University of Utah, along with the guidance of Matthew Weinstein at Voices for Utah Children. When released, this paper got a lot of media attention. This paper is available on USpace.

Women earn less than men, and the disparity between men’s and women’s wages in Utah is larger than the same disparity at the national or regional levels. Little is known as to why Utah has a larger wage gap than the nation or its neighbors. In this paper, we use Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition to decompose the wage gap in Utah, the Intermountain region, and the nation into a part that can be attributed to differing endowments between men and women and a part due to men and women being rewarded differently in the labor market, due to factors including discrimination. We compare these differentials across time (from 1992 to 2014) and geographic regions. Using pooled CPS March data from 2009 to 2014, we find that at the national level, women earn 82% of what men earn; among similarly qualified individuals, women earn 97% of what men earn. In Utah, these figures are 74% and 86%, respectively. Utah’s earnings gap is larger than the nation’s due to both more discrimination and a larger endowment effect for Utah. Furthermore, since 1992, inequality due to discrimination has decreased in Utah, but inequality due to differing endowments has increased, unlike the national trend where both causes decreased.