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Assessing the "Engines of Liberation": Home Appliances and Female Labor Force Participation

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  • Tiago V. de V. Cavalcanti

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge)

  • José Tavares

    (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Abstract

The secular rise in female labor force participation, highlighted in the recent macroeconomics literature on growth and structural change, has been associated with the declining price and wider availability of home appliances. This paper uses a new and unique country data set on the price of home appliances to test its impact on female labor supply. We assess the role of the price of appliances in raising participation by comparing it to other structural determinants such as average male income. A decrease in the relative price of appliances-the ratio of the price of appliances to the consumer price index-leads to a substantial and statistically significant increase in female labor force participation. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the decline in the relative price of home appliances alone accounts for about 10% to 15% of the increase in female labor force participation from 1975 to 1999. This result is robust to the inclusion of additional controls, such as country dummies, time trend, government spending, and the growth rate of real GDP. To assess causality, we test for exogeneity and use the manufactured price index and the terms of trade adjustment as instrumental variables confirming that lower appliance prices lead to increased female participation. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 90 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 81-88

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:90:y:2008:i:1:p:81-88

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Cited by:
  1. Emanuela Cardia & Paul Gomme, 2011. "The Household Revolution: Childcare, Housework,and Female Labor Force Participation," Working Papers, Concordia University, Department of Economics 11006, Concordia University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Jul 2012.
  2. Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos & Jeremy Greenwood, 2012. "Technology And The Changing Family: A Unified Model Of Marriage, Divorce, Educational Attainment And Married Female Labor-Force Participation," 2012 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 168, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Steven Lugauer & Alexis Leon & Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2008. "The Effect of Household Appliances on Female Labor Force Participation: Evidence from Micro Data," 2008 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 541, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Pierre-Richard AGENOR & Otaviano CANUTO, 2012. "Access to Infrastructure and Women’s Time Allocation: Evidence and a Framework for Policy Analysis," Working Papers, FERDI P45, FERDI.
  5. Kohlin, Gunnar & Sills, Erin O. & Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. & Wilfong, Christopher, 2011. "Energy, gender and development: what are the linkages ? where is the evidence ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 5800, The World Bank.
  6. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2013. "Changing Technologies of Household Production: Causes and Effects," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics 2013-004, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  7. Baker Matthew J. & George Lisa M, 2010. "The Role of Television in Household Debt: Evidence from the 1950's," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-38, May.
  8. Agenor, Pierre-Richard & Canuto, Otaviano & da Silva, Luiz Pereira, 2010. "On gender and growth : the role of intergenerational health externalities and women's occupational constraints," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 5492, The World Bank.
  9. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2011. "The Role of Technological Change in Increasing Gender Equity with a Focus on Information and Communications Technologyy," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics 2011-007, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  10. Joanna Alexopoulos & Tiago V. de V. Cavalcanti, 2006. "Cheap Home Goods And Persistent Inequality," Anais do XXXIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 34th Brazilian Economics Meeting], ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of G 165, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  11. Jeremy Greenwood, 2011. "Technology And The Changing Family," 2011 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 1420, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Pierre-Richard AGENOR & Otaviano CANUTO, 2012. "Access to Infrastructure and Women’s Time Allocation: Evidence and a Framework for Policy Analysis," Working Papers, FERDI P45, FERDI.

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