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Gender Role Attitudes and Women's Labor Market Participation : Opting-Out, AIDS and the President Appeal of Housewifery


  • Nicole M. Fortin


After a century of remarkable growth, U.S. female labor force participation (FLP) has leveled-off in the late 1990s, despite continuous improvement in fundamental economic variables, such as educational attainment. Using data from the 1977-2006 General Social Surveys (GSS), this paper studies the impact of changing gender role attitudes on the evolution of FLP. The analysis uses a double prong instrumental variable strategy in the context of a variant of two-sample two-stage least squares (TS2LS). First, it appeals to extraneous attitudes found in the GSS, and second to an exogenous shock to attitudes, namely the AIDS scare, which may have acted as a counter-current to the ``Pill Revolution", using repeated cross-sectional data from the 1988-2006 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS). Gender role attitudes, whose progression stalled in the mid-1990s when the AIDS crisis peaked, are found to explain at least a third of the recent leveling-off in FLP that is, as much as all the usual variables combined.

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  • Nicole M. Fortin, 2015. "Gender Role Attitudes and Women's Labor Market Participation : Opting-Out, AIDS and the President Appeal of Housewifery," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 117-118, pages 379-401.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2015:i:117-118:p:379-401 DOI: 10.15609/annaeconstat2009.117-118.379

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