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Changes in behavioral and characteristic determination of female labor force participation, 1975-2005

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  • Julie L. Hotchkiss

Abstract

For policymakers, identifying the factors contributing to changes in labor force participation over time is important for setting appropriate policy regarding the nation’s productivity. Although the factors contributing to such changes over the past six decades have been well documented, more recent trends in women’s labor force participation beg further scrutiny. ; This article dissects the changes in the labor force participation rate over the past thirty years among women aged twenty-five to fifty-four. Using Current Population Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the author focuses especially on the unprecedented 2.7 percentage point decline in women’s participation rate between 2000 and 2005. While changes in the observed behavior of educated women and in characteristics such as the number of young children have contributed to the decline, the results suggest that the largest contributors have been unobserved changes. From a policy perspective, the presence of unobservables is not very satisfying or informative. Nonetheless, the large role of unobservables in determining labor force participation rates suggests that a rebound to participation rates seen in 2000 is not obviously forthcoming or likely to be easily predictable. The next step in studying these trends, the author believes, is further investigation of how labor force participation decisions are made in a family context and how these decisions have changed over time. ; From a policy perspective, the presence of unobservables is not very satisfying or informative. Nonetheless, the large role of unobservables in determining labor force participation rates suggests that a rebound to participation rates seen in 2000 is not obviously forthcoming or likely to be easily predictable. The next step in studying these trends, the author believes, is further investigation of how labor force participation decisions are made in a family context and how these decisions have changed over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2006. "Changes in behavioral and characteristic determination of female labor force participation, 1975-2005," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 1-20.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2006:i:q2:p:1-20:n:v.91no.2
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    Cited by:

    1. James Vere, 2007. "“Having it all” no longer: Fertility, Female Labor supply, and the new life choices of Generation x," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(4), pages 821-828, November.
    2. Robert A. Moffitt, 2012. "The Reveral of the Employment-Population Ratio in the 2000s: Facts and Explanations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 201-264.
    3. repec:eee:eecrev:v:102:y:2018:i:c:p:129-168 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ioana Popovici & Michael T. French, 2013. "Does Unemployment Lead to Greater Alcohol Consumption?," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 444-466, April.
    5. Julie L. Hotchkiss & M. Melinda Pitts & Mary Beth Walker, 2010. "Assessing the impact of education and marriage on labor market exit decisions of women," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2010-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Robert A. Moffitt, 2012. "The U.S. Employment-Population Reversal in the 2000s: Facts and Explanations," Economics Working Paper Archive 604, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    7. Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2009. "Changes in the aggregate labor force participation rate," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    8. Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2009. "Decomposing changes in the aggregate labor force participation rate," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    9. Macunovich, Diane J., 2009. "Reversals in the Patterns of Women's Labor Supply in the U.S., 1976-2009," IZA Discussion Papers 4512, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Julie L. Hotchkiss & M. Melinda Pitts & Fernando Rios-Avila, 2012. "A closer look at nonparticipants during and after the Great Recession," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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    Keywords

    Women - Employment;

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