Legislating Equality: State-Level Anti-Discrimination Laws and Labor Force Sex Stratification

Kimberlee A. Shauman, University of California, Davis

Although a large body of research has explored the sources of gender inequality in the labor market, most extant research focuses on the influence of individual- or occupational-level characteristics on increasing gender equity. The effects of state-level policies on increasing gender equity in the labor force have been largely ignored. In this study, we examine whether state laws prohibiting marital status discrimination in employment have influenced progress toward gender equality on a range of employment outcomes. Twenty-two states enacted laws that prohibit marital status discrimination between 1970 and 1988, providing a natural experiment in the impact of state-level policy. We use data from the 1962-2007 Current Population Surveys to estimate growth-curve models of trends in a range of labor market outcomes that test for (1) state-level variation in the trend toward sex equity and (2) the influence of state-level policies on the trends toward greater equity.

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Presented in Session 147: Work-Family Barriers to Gender Equality