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The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation

In: Human Capital in History: The American Record

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  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • William J. Collins

Abstract

Black women were more likely than white women to participate in the labor force from 1870 until at least 1980 and to hold jobs in agriculture or manufacturing. Differences in observables cannot account for most of this racial gap in labor force participation for the 100 years after Emancipation. The unexplained racial gap may be due to racial differences in stigma associated with women’s work, which Goldin (1977) suggested could be traced to cultural norms rooted in slavery. In both nineteenth and twentieth century data, we find evidence of inter-generation transmission of labor force participation from mother to daughter, which is consistent with the role of cultural norms.

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This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12902.

Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12902

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  1. Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Life-Cycle Labor-Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications," Scholarly Articles 2656816, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Francine Blau & Lawrence Kahn & Albert Liu & Kerry Papps, 2013. "The transmission of women’s fertility, human capital, and work orientation across immigrant generations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 405-435, April.
  3. William J. Collins, 2001. "The Labor Market Impact of State-Level Anti-Discrimination Laws, 1940-1960," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0108, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  4. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1985. "Cultural Differences in Labor Force Participation among Married Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 251-55, May.
  5. Gronau, Reuben, 1977. "Leisure, Home Production, and Work-The Theory of the Allocation of Time Revisited," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1099-1123, December.
  6. Francis Vella & Lídia Farré, 2007. "The Intergenerational Transmission Of Gender Role Attitudes And Its Implications For Female Labor Force Participation," Working Papers. Serie AD 2007-23, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  7. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 9227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. William J. Collins & Robert A. Margo, 2003. "Historical Perspectives on Racial Differences in Schooling in the United States," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0313, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  9. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1, May.
  10. Nicole M. Fortin, 2008. "The Gender Wage Gap among Young Adults in the United States: The Importance of Money versus People," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  11. Fraundorf, Martha Norby, 1979. "The Labor Force Participation of Turn-of-the-Century Married Women," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 401-418, June.
  12. Ben Jann, 2008. "The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(4), pages 453-479, December.
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