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Work Environment and “Opt-Out" Rates at Motherhood Across High-Education Career Paths

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  • Jane Leber Herr
  • Catherine Wolfram
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    Abstract

    Using data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates and a sample of Harvard alumnae, we study the relationship between work environment and the labor force participation of mothers. We first document a large variation in labor force participation rates across high-education fields. Mindful of the possibility of systematic patterns in the types of women who complete different graduate degrees, we use the rich information available in each dataset, and the longitudinal nature of the Harvard data, to assess the extent to which these labor supply patterns may reflect variation in the difficulty of combining work with family. While it is difficult to entirely rule out systematic sorting, our evidence suggests that non-family-friendly work environments “push” women out of the labor force at motherhood.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14717.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2009
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    Publication status: published as Title: Work environment and opt-out rates at motherhood across high-education career paths Author(s): Herr J L, Wolfram C D Journal: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Oct 2012, Volume: 65 Issue: 4 pp.928-950 (23 pages) Issn: 0019-7939
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14717

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    1. Flyer, F. & Rosen, S., 1994. "The New Economics of Teachers and Education," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center, Chicago - Economics Research Center 94-1, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
    2. Alessandra Fogli & Laura Veldkamp, 2011. "Nature or Nurture? Learning and the Geography of Female Labor Force Participation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1103-1138, 07.
    3. Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Simonsen, Marianne & Verner, Mette, 2002. "Does the Gap in Family-friendly Policies Drive the Family Gap?," Working Papers, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics 02-19, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000," NBER Working Papers 11230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Wood, Robert G & Corcoran, Mary E & Courant, Paul N, 1993. "Pay Differences among the Highly Paid: The Male-Female Earnings Gap in Lawyers' Salaries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 417-41, July.
    6. Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family," NBER Working Papers 11953, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Heather Boushey, 2005. "Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) 2005-36, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    8. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
    9. Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
    10. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
    11. Paul Oyer, 2006. "The Making of an Investment Banker: Macroeconomic Shocks, Career Choice, and Lifetime Income," NBER Working Papers 12059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Johnson, Nancy Brown & Provan, Keith G., 1995. "The relationship between work/family benefits and earnings: A test of competing predictions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 571-584.
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    Cited by:
    1. Asphjell, Magne K. & Hensvik, Lena & Nilsson, J. Peter, 2013. "Businesses, Buddies, and Babies: Fertility and Social Interactions at Work," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies, Uppsala University, Department of Economics 2013:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    2. Qingyan Shang & Bruce Weinberg, 2013. "Opting for families: recent trends in the fertility of highly educated women," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 5-32, January.
    3. Hussey, Andrew, 2011. "The effect of ethics on labor market success: Evidence from MBAs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 168-180.

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