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

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  • Raquel Fernández
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    This paper develops a learning model of cultural change to investigate why women's labor force participation (LFP) and attitudes toward women’s work both changed dramatically. In the model, women's beliefs about the long-run payoff from working evolve endogenously via an intergenerational learning process. This process generically generates the data's S-shaped LFP curve and introduces a novel role for wage changes via their effect on the speed of intergenerational learning. The calibrated model does a good job of replicating the evolution of female LFP in the United States over the last 120 years and finds that the new role for wages was quantitatively significant.

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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 472-500

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:1:p:472-500
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.1.472
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