Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Member

Dr. Patrick Warrent, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Chungsang Tom Lam

Committee Member

Dr. Scott Barkowski

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Hanssen


This dissertation investigates female career progress in the U. S. federal government in aspects of wage, promotion, leave, and fertility. It sheds lights on how women face trade-offs between career and fertility and how the gender decomposition of supervisors affects gender wage and promotion gaps. The first chapter examines how female leadership affects the gender wage gap in the U. S. federal government. Using a unique dataset from the Office of Personnel Management, I track careers of civilian employees from 1988 to 2011. I find that in offices where all supervisors are men, male wages are on average 10.6% higher than female wages. In contrast, in offices where all supervisors are women, the wage gap in favor of men disappears and becomes 3.2% in favor of women due to a 7.1% increase in female wages and a 6.7% decline in male wages. Also, the gender of an executive (a higher level supervisor) has a lesser impact on wages than the gender of regular supervisors. However, the gender of an executive has a greater impact on wages of supervisors than on wages of non-supervisors, which is consistent with the theory of mentorship. I account for potential endogeneity caused by a non-random assignment of supervisors by using office fixed effects and an instrumental variable based on retirement. Finally, I investigate potential mechanisms by examining promotions, exits, starting, and exiting positions. The second chapter examines the effects of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on the promotion of women into managerial positions using the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data and imputed fertility rates from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. I find that after the FMLA was passed in 1993, there was a significant change in the relationship between fertility and promotion, with fertility becoming more negatively associated with promotion. Com-pared to the relationship prior to 1993, a 10% increase in fertility is associated with an additional 1.3% decline in the probability of being promoted. This suggests that the FMLA may have inhibited the relative career progress of women in high-fertility demographic groups in the U.S. federal civil service system. The third chapter examines the effect of Medicaid expansion on the fertility rate using individual level panel data under an alternative insurance. We find that without controlling for an alternative insurance, Medicaid eligibility expansion has no significant effect on female fertility. However, we find that for those females not covered by insurance, Medicaid eligibility increases fertility by 5 percentage points per year over time. Such effect is both statistical and economically significant and is stronger among groups of females that are un-married or not employed. These evidence suggests that Medicaid program as a social benefit is more effective for those who need it the most.



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