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Culture as Learning: The Evolution of Female Labor Force Participation over a Century

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  • Raquel Fernandez

    (NYU)

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    Abstract

    Married women's labor force participation increased dramatically over the last century. I investigate the role of changes in culture arising from learning in this process. In the model, women hold (heterogeneous) beliefs regarding the long-run payoff of market work versus working at home. Beliefs evolve via an intergenerational learning process which generically generates an S-shaped figure for female LFP. I calibrate the model and show that it does a good job in replicating the historical evolution of female LFP in the US over 120 years. I find that the model's novel dynamic role for wages is quantitatively important.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2009 Meeting Papers with number 78.

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    Date of creation: 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:78

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    1. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    2. Michael Burda & Daniel S. Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2007. "Total Work, Gender and Social Norms," NBER Working Papers 13000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2005. "Engines of Liberation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 109-133.
    4. Amador, Manuel & Weill, Pierre-Olivier, 2006. "Learning from Private and Public Observation of Other's Actions," MPRA Paper 109, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Smith, L. & Sorensen, P., 1996. "Pathological Outcomes of Observational Learning," Working papers 96-19, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    6. Raquel Bernal & Michael P. Keane, 2011. "Child Care Choices and Children’s Cognitive Achievement: The Case of Single Mothers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 459 - 512.
    7. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521824019.
    8. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
    9. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap And The Decline In Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961, August.
    10. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2006. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 869-902, October.
    11. George-Levi Gayle & Limor Golan, 2012. "Estimating a Dynamic Adverse-Selection Model: Labour-Force Experience and the Changing Gender Earnings Gap 1968--1997," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 227-267.
    12. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    13. Chamley,Christophe P., 2004. "Rational Herds," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521530927.
    14. Raquel Bernal, 2008. "The Effect Of Maternal Employment And Child Care On Children'S Cognitive Development," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1173-1209, November.
    15. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
    16. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1.
    17. Antecol, Heather, 2000. "An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 409-426, July.
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