Gender differences in job search: trading off commute against wage

Le Barbanchon, Thomas; Rathelot, Roland; Roulet, Alexandra

We relate gender differences in willingness to commute to the gender wage gap. Using French administrative data on job search criteria, we first document that unemployed women have a lower reservation wage and a shorter maximum acceptable commute than their male counterparts. We then identify indifference curves between wage and commute using the joint distributions of reservation job attributes and of accepted job bundles. Indifference curves are steeper for women, who value commute around 20% more than men. Controlling in particular for the previous job, newly hired women are paid after unemployment 4% less per hour and have a 12% shorter commute than men. Through the lens of a job search model where commuting matters, we estimate that gender differences in commute valuation can account for a 0.5 log point hourly wage deficit for women, i.e., 14 percent of the residualized gender wage gap. Finally, we use job application data to test the robustness of our results and to show that female workers do not receive less demand from far-away employers, confirming that most of the gender gap in commute is supply-side driven.