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The U-Shaped Female Labor Force Function in Economic Development and Economic History

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

The 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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4707.

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Date of creation: Apr 1994
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Publication status: published as T. Paul Schultz, ed., Investment in Women's Human Capital and Economic Development, University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4707

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  1. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schultz, T. Paul, 1989. "Women's changing participation in the labor force : a world perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 272, The World Bank.
  3. Gronau, Reuben, 1977. "Leisure, Home Production, and Work-The Theory of the Allocation of Time Revisited," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1099-1123, December.
  4. Norris, Mary E., 1992. "The impact of development on women : A specific-factors analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 183-201, January.
  5. Mukhopadhyay, S.K., 1991. "Adapting Household Behavior to Agricultural Technology in West Bengal, India: Wage labor, Fertility; and Child Schooling Determinants," Papers, Yale - Economic Growth Center 631, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  6. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, October.
  7. Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
  8. Psacharopoulos, George & Tzannatos, Zafiris, 1989. "Female Labor Force Participation: An International Perspective," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 4(2), pages 187-201, July.
  9. Miller, Barbara D, 1982. "Female Labor Participation and Female Seclusion in Rural India: A Regional View," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 777-94, July.
  10. Schultz, T.P., 1991. "International Differences in Labor Force Participation in Families and Firms," Papers, Yale - Economic Growth Center 634, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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Cited by:
  1. Dijkstra, A.G., 2000. "A. larger pie through a fair share? : gender equality and economic performance," ISS Working Papers - General Series, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague 19060, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
  2. Pieters, Janneke & Klasen, Stephan, 2011. "Drivers of female labour force participation in urban India during India's Economic Boom," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 65, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  3. Alícia Adserà, 2004. "Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 17-43, February.
  4. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2000. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," Arbetsrapport, Institute for Futures Studies 2000:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
  5. Masood, Tariq & Ahmad, Mohd. Izhar, 2009. "An Econometric Analysis of Inter-State Variations in Women’s Labour Force Participation in India," MPRA Paper 19297, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Oct 2009.
  6. Stijn Claessens & Erik Feijen, 2006. "Financial Sector Development and the Millennium Development Goals," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7145, August.
  7. World Bank, 2013. "FYR Macedonia - Gender Diagnostic : Gaps in Endowments, Access to Economic Opportunities and Agency," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16253, The World Bank.
  8. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
  9. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition," Working Papers 98-1, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Aug 1998.
  10. Berta Esteve-Volart, 2004. "Gender Discrimination and Growth: Theory and Evidence from India," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics 42, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  11. Ganguli Prokopovych, Ina & Hausmann, Ricardo & Viarengo, Martina, 2011. "Closing the Gender Gap in Education: Does it Foretell the Closing of the Employment, Marriage, and Motherhood Gaps?," Scholarly Articles 5027209, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  12. Vendrik, Maarten C. M., 2003. "Dynamics of a household norm in female labour supply," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 823-841, March.
  13. Juan José Diaz, 2003. "Evolución de la estructura de ingresos relativos en Lima Metropolitana: un análisis de los factores de oferta y de demanda, 1986-1995," Investigaciones Breves (CIES-GRADE), Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE);Consorcio de Investigación Económica y Social (CIES) ciesib11, Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE);Consorcio de Investigación Económica y Social (CIES).
  14. Erturk, Korkut & Darity, William Jr., 2000. "Secular Changes in the Gender Composition of Employment and Growth Dynamics in the North and the South," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1231-1238, July.
  15. Klasen, Stephan & Pieters, Janneke, 2012. "Push or Pull? Drivers of Female Labor Force Participation during India's Economic Boom," IZA Discussion Papers 6395, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. repec:dgr:uvatin:2009099 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Oded Galor & David N. Weil, 1998. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From the Malthusian Regime to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," NBER Working Papers 6811, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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