Changes in Occupational Sex Segregation during the 1980s and 1990s

Wells, Thomas
Working paper no. 1998-14


This research note investigates trends in occupational sex segregation between 1980 and 1997. Using PUMS data from the 1980 and the 1990 censuses as well as microdata from the March 1990 and March 1997 CPS, I compute unstandardized and standardized indexes of dissimilarity as measures of occupational segregation. The results indicate that levels of segregation declined in the 1980s and 1990s, but that declines were smaller between 1990 and 1997. During the 1980s, sex segregation declined primarily as a result of the changing sex composition within occupations. During the 1990s, these compositional changes were shown to be of a smaller magnitude, contributing to smaller declines in sex segregation.