Thursday, April 20, 2006

Social changes led married women into the labor force :: St. Louis Fed

Kristie M. Engemann and Michael T. Owyang provide a nice review of the reasons behind the growth in the labor force participation of married women in the U.S., from less than 30% in 1955 to over 60% today.

The reasons:

1. Housework gets done faster: Economists Jeremy Greenwood, Ananth Seshadri and Mehmet Yorukoglu have argued that married women could not enter the labor force in large numbers until housework had become less time-consuming. Specifically, the authors focused on widespread adoption of advanced technology—e.g., washing machines, vacuums and dishwashers—that greatly reduced the time needed for housework.

2. Wanting to marry a woman just like dear old mom. Growing demand for wives that work outside the home: After controlling for some background characteristics, Fernández, Fogli and Olivetti found that the probability that a married woman worked full-time (at the time of the survey) was 32 percentage points higher if her husband’s mother worked for at least one year when he was young. . . . Surprisingly, after controlling for other variables, the wife’s work decision was unaffected by her own mother’s labor force status. As with the first survey, the probability that the wife worked full-time increased by 24 percentage points if her husband’s mother worked “all the time.”

3. The Pill: A 2002 study by economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz focuses on the birth control pill as a factor in women’s increased LFP because it altered the timing of marriage and pregnancy. The pill was first made available, primarily for married women, in 1960. Widespread adoption among young, unmarried women, however, varied by state.

(Link via: Economist's View.)

In a related note, I don't put much stock in this survey:

Over 93pc of women want to quit jobs - ABU DHABI — More than 93 per cent of female employees in the country wish to quit their jobs for not being able to compromise between their job obligations and their families, revealed Attorney Abdulqadir Al Haythamy.
There's a reason they call it work, and there's a reason you get paid to do it. The wrong question is being asked (or answered), that is, would you quit if got paid the same for staying at home? Silly question designed, I suspect, to elicit a high rate of affirmative responses by someone with an agenda (that agenda being a woman's place is in the home).

Almost as silly saying we should tax women who get educated, but then stay at home. That recommendation is also agenda driven (that agenda being if some women voluntarily stay at home that undercuts feminism).

My agenda is women should be free to choose between working at home and working outside the home.

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11:56 PM  

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