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Why Did Employment and Earnings Rise among Lone Mothers in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s?


  • John Myles
  • Feng Hou
  • Garnett Picot
  • Karen Myers


Employment rates and earnings among Canadian lone mothers have improved significantly since 1980. Using microdata from the Census of Canada, we show that these changes were mainly the result of two major demographic developments: the postwar revolution in women's educational attainment, and the aging of the "baby boom" which amplified the effect of rising levels of educational attainment. Most of these gains, moreover, went to older lone mothers. While changes in the social policy environment were undoubtedly a contributing factor, their potential explanatory contribution is comparatively modest relative to these large demographic shifts. Since the demographic drivers underlying these gains are now nearing maturity, future gains from this source are likely to be modest by comparison.

Suggested Citation

  • John Myles & Feng Hou & Garnett Picot & Karen Myers, 2007. "Why Did Employment and Earnings Rise among Lone Mothers in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 33(2), pages 147-172, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:33:y:2007:i:2:p:147-172

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicole M. Fortin & Michael Huberman, 2002. "Occupational Gender Segregation: Public Policies and Economic Forces: Introduction and Overview," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 1-10, May.
    2. Karmel, T & Maclachlan, M, 1988. "Occupational Sex Segregation--Increasing or Decreasing?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 64(186), pages 187-195, September.
    3. Marie Drolet, 2002. "Can the Workplace Explain Canadian Gender Pay Differentials?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 41-63, May.
    4. Richard P. Chaykowski & Lisa M. Powell, 1999. "Women and the Labour Market: Recent Trends and Policy Issues," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(s1), pages 2-25, November.
    5. Marie Drolet, 2002. "Can the workplace explain Canadian gender pay differentials?," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 75-77.
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