Gender Inequalities and Scarring Effects in School to Work Transitions
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This thesis investigates issues related to gender inequalities and scarring effects in school to work transitions. The first chapter analyses the gender earnings gap among Italian college graduates at the beginning of their careers. Thanks to the richness of the dataset used I am able to control for a large set of variables related to individuals' educational and family background, as well as personality traits. The main finding is that the content of the college degree course is the most signicant variable in explaining the earnings gender differentials of young workers. In particular I show that female sorting in college majors characterised by a low maths content explains between 13 and 16% of the earnings gender gap. Motivated by this result, in Chapter 2 I investigate the determinants of gender gaps in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduation rates, with an emphasis on family, cultural and school influences. I show that half of the gap is attributed to the gender difference in maths and science content of the high school curriculum. The results indicate that in Italy the issue of the gender gap in STEM graduation has its roots in a gendered choice that originates many years before. The final chapter analyses the extent to which the mismatch of demand and supply of skills that young workers face when they enter the labour market upon completing education affects their careers. Regression results show that there is a long lasting negative effect of these initial conditions on labour market outcomes. The evidence is suggestive of a `trickle down unemployment' phenomenon, namely that high-skill workers try to escape strong competition from their high-skill peers by taking jobs for which a lower level of education is required, moving down the occupational ladder.
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