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“She Has Suddenly Become Powerful†: Youth Employment and Household Decision Making in the Early Twentieth Century

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  • MOEHLING, CAROLYN M.

Abstract

In the United States a century ago, working children turned over almost all of their earnings to their parents. What incentives, then, did they have to work? Standard answers include altruism or the “sticks†wielded by parents and employers. This article argues that there were also “carrots†: working gave children greater influence in household decision making. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Cost of Living Survey 1917–1919, this article shows that working children had higher clothing expenditures than did nonworking children and that clothing expenditures were increasing in the income a child brought into the household.

Suggested Citation

  • Moehling, Carolyn M., 2005. "“She Has Suddenly Become Powerful†: Youth Employment and Household Decision Making in the Early Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 414-438, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:65:y:2005:i:02:p:414-438_00
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