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Occupations after WWII: The legacy of Rosie the Riveter

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  • Bellou, Andriana
  • Cardia, Emanuela

Abstract

WWII mobilization led to a permanent increase in female employment. Using Census micro data we study the effects of this increase on the occupations women held after the war. Almost three decades after its end, WWII had lasting effects on the occupational landscape. For women of working age in the early 1940s, the war caused a permanent shift towards blue-collar occupations – particularly in manufacturing and service jobs – and a decline in employment in white-collar jobs. A reduction in educational attainment due to the draft, accumulation of occupation-specific experience and relatively high wages in blue-collar sectors can largely account for these patterns. WWII mobilization also influenced the occupational outcomes of the next generation of women who were too young to be working at the time of the war. This cohort shifted away from lower-skill jobs and towards clerical occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Bellou, Andriana & Cardia, Emanuela, 2016. "Occupations after WWII: The legacy of Rosie the Riveter," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 124-142.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:62:y:2016:i:c:p:124-142
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2016.03.004
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    1. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2015. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1031-1073.
    2. Christoph Eder, 2014. "Missing Men: World War II Casualties and Structural Change," NRN working papers 2014-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    3. Victor Gay, 2017. "The Legacy of the Missing Men: The Long-Run Impact of World War I on Female Labor Force Participation," 2017 Papers pga905, Job Market Papers.
    4. Abel Brodeur & Lamis Kattan, 2022. "World War II, the Baby Boom, and Employment: County-Level Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 437-471.
    5. Gay, Victor & Boehnke, Jörn, 2017. "The Missing Men: World War I and Female Labor Participation," MPRA Paper 77560, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    N30; N42; J16; J24; Keywords:; WWII; Occupations; Rosie the Riveter; United States; Manpower mobilization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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