U.Va. Economist Miller Wins International Institute’s Young Researcher Award

January 29, 2014

Amalia Miller, a University of Virginia associate professor of economics, has been awarded the 2013 “Young Labor Economist Award” from IZA, the international Institute for the Study of Labor.

The award, established in 2006, honors an outstanding paper in labor economics written by young researchers. To qualify for the award, all authors must be younger than 40 years of age at the time of publication.

Miller won the recognition with co-authors Martha Bailey of the University of Michigan and Brad Hershbein from the Upjohn Institute for their article, “The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception, Fertility Timing and the Gender Gap in Wages,” published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics in 2012.

The trio accepted the award at a reception during the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations, held in Philadelphia in January.

The award-winning paper shows that the narrowing of the gender wage gap in the 1980s can be traced back to a revolution in the flexibility and family planning possibilities brought about by legal access to the contraception pill after 1960. This allowed women to “opt in” the labor market, accumulate more education and enter into higher-paid jobs, they found.

After being relatively stable for about 30 years, the gender wage gap declined rapidly and substantially in the 1980s. The authors hypothesize that the introduction of “the pill” played an important role in this reduction. Oral contraception could be relevant for women’s life-time earnings, for instance, because it changed women’s incentives to invest in education, it has allowed them to accumulate more labor market experience, and it could have changed the type of jobs where women found employment or pursued careers.

IZA – the Institute for the Study of Labor – is a private, independent economic research institute established in 1998 in Bonn, Germany and focused on the analysis of global labor markets. It operates an international network of about 1,300 economists and researchers spanning more than 45 countries.