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‘‘Isn't it time you were finishing?’’: Women's Labor Force Participation and Childbearing in England, 1860--1920


  • Paul Atkinson


This contribution examines the relationship between women's labor force participation (LFP) and fertility in three industrial towns of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England from a feminist economic perspective. The study augments existing statistical approaches to demographic history by discussing women's motivations. Women's LFP influenced their likelihood of family limitation (via effects on both age at marriage and marital fertility). Where women were most likely to be in paid work, they were most likely to limit family size. It is further argued that the diversity of LFP patterns is the principal explanation for the varied patterns of fertility decline in different parts of Britain.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Atkinson, 2012. "‘‘Isn't it time you were finishing?’’: Women's Labor Force Participation and Childbearing in England, 1860--1920," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 145-164, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:18:y:2012:i:4:p:145-164 DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2012.725942

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dale-Olsen, Harald, 2006. "Wages, fringe benefits and worker turnover," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 87-105, February.
    2. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
    3. Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Evidence On The Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 15-26, February.
    4. Nguyen, Binh T. & Albrecht, James W. & Vroman, Susan B. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 2007. "A quantile regression decomposition of urban-rural inequality in Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 466-490, July.
    5. Jayachandran N. Variyam & David S. Kraybill, 1998. "Fringe Benefits Provision by Rural Small Businesses," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 360-368.
    6. Jowett, M. & Contoyannis, P. & Vinh, N. D., 2003. "The impact of public voluntary health insurance on private health expenditures in Vietnam," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 333-342, January.
    7. Rand, John & Tarp, Finn & Cuong, Tran Tien & Tam, Nguyen Thanh, 2008. "SME Fringe Benefits Provision," MPRA Paper 29469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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