Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The focus of this study was on the interaction of gender and marital status and how if affects hourly wages. This study was designed to identify the extent to which personal variables, such as education, family variables, such as amount of housework, and structural variables, such as percentage female in one's occupation, can explain and predict the earnings of married males, married females and single females who are heads of household. The target research group was single female heads of household. Status attainment theories and Marxist theories have been written to explain women's position in the labor force. Specific theoretical frameworks from within these two sociological schools (human capital and socialist feminism, respectively) were chosen to explain the wage gap between men and women by marital category. It was hypothesized that personal, family, and structural variables affect men and women differently. The main objective of this study was to design a model in which the human capital theory; the socialist feminist theory; and the personal, family, and structural variables could be combined. Data for this study were taken from the 1983 Panel Study of Income Dynamics conducted by the University of Michigan. The information pertains to 1,688 married males, 1,022 married females, and 363 single females heads of household who worked at least 26 weeks in 1982 and who had children living with them. The research design chosen for this study was secondary analysis of sample surveys. LISREL was the statistical procedure used to analyze the data. The findings supported twelve of the seventeen hypotheses. Three hypotheses were rejected and two were inconclusive based on the results. Overall, the structural variables contributed more to the understanding of the wage determination process by gender and marital status. Education was the strongest predictor of husbands' wage rate; whereas, labor segment was the strongest predictor of wage rate for both single females and wives.