The U-Shaped Female Labor Force Function in Economic Development and Economic History
AbstractThe labor force participation rate of married women first declines and then rises as countries develop. Its þ-shape is revealed both across the process of economic development and through the histories of currently advanced countries. The initial decline in the participation rate is due to the movement of production from the household, family farm, and small business to the wider market, and to a strong income effect. But the income effect weakens and the substitution effect strengthens at some point. This paper explores why the change takes place and why the þ-shape is traced out. When women are poorly educated their only wage labor outside the home and family is in manual work, against which a strong social stigma exists. But when women are educated, particularly at the secondary level, they enter white-collar work, against which no social stigma exists. Data for more than one-hundred countries and for United States history are used to explore the hypothesis of the þ-shaped female labor force function.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4707.
Date of creation: Apr 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as T. Paul Schultz, ed., Investment in Women's Human Capital and Economic Development, University of Chicago Press, 1995.
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
- N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
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