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Assessing the "Engines of Liberation": Home Appliances and Female Labor Force Participation

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  • Tiago V. de V. Cavalcanti

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge)

  • José Tavares

    (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Abstract

The secular rise in female labor force participation, highlighted in the recent macroeconomics literature on growth and structural change, has been associated with the declining price and wider availability of home appliances. This paper uses a new and unique country data set on the price of home appliances to test its impact on female labor supply. We assess the role of the price of appliances in raising participation by comparing it to other structural determinants such as average male income. A decrease in the relative price of appliances-the ratio of the price of appliances to the consumer price index-leads to a substantial and statistically significant increase in female labor force participation. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the decline in the relative price of home appliances alone accounts for about 10% to 15% of the increase in female labor force participation from 1975 to 1999. This result is robust to the inclusion of additional controls, such as country dummies, time trend, government spending, and the growth rate of real GDP. To assess causality, we test for exogeneity and use the manufactured price index and the terms of trade adjustment as instrumental variables confirming that lower appliance prices lead to increased female participation. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Tiago V. de V. Cavalcanti & José Tavares, 2008. "Assessing the "Engines of Liberation": Home Appliances and Female Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 81-88, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:90:y:2008:i:1:p:81-88
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Gomme & Emanuela Cardia, 2009. "The Household Revolution:Childcare, Housework, and Female Labor Force Participation," 2009 Meeting Papers 773, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2016. "Technology and the Changing Family: A Unified Model of Marriage, Divorce, Educational Attainment, and Married Female Labor-Force Participation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-41, January.
    3. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2017. "Family Economics Writ Large," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1346-1434, December.
    4. Morrill, Melinda Sandler & Morrill, Thayer, 2013. "Intergenerational links in female labor force participation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 38-47.
    5. Coen-Pirani, Daniele & León, Alexis & Lugauer, Steven, 2010. "The effect of household appliances on female labor force participation: Evidence from microdata," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 503-513, June.
    6. Baker Matthew J. & George Lisa M, 2010. "The Role of Television in Household Debt: Evidence from the 1950's," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-38, May.
    7. Kohlin, Gunnar & Sills, Erin O. & Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. & Wilfong, Christopher, 2011. "Energy, gender and development: what are the linkages ? where is the evidence ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5800, The World Bank.
    8. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2009. "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 231-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Cheng Chen & Shin-Yi Chou & Robert J. Thornton, 2015. "The Effect of Household Technology on Weight and Health Outcomes among Chinese Adults: Evidence from China's "Home Appliances Going to the Countryside" Policy," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 364-401.
    10. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2011. "The Role of Technological Change in Increasing Gender Equity with a Focus on Information and Communications Technologyy," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2011-007, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    11. Ali Fakih & Pascal Ghazalian, 2015. "Female employment in MENA’s manufacturing sector: the implications of firm-related and national factors," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 37-69, February.
    12. Sauré, Philip & Zoabi, Hosny, 2014. "International trade, the gender wage gap and female labor force participation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 17-33.
    13. Agénor, Pierre-Richard & Canuto, Otaviano & da Silva, Luiz Pereira, 2014. "On gender and growth: The role of intergenerational health externalities and women's occupational constraints," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 132-147.
    14. Joanna Alexopoulos & Tiago V. Cavalcanti, 2010. "Cheap home goods and persistent inequality," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 45(3), pages 417-451, December.
    15. Pierre-Richard AGENOR & Otaviano CANUTO, 2012. "Access to Infrastructure and Women’s Time Allocation: Evidence and a Framework for Policy Analysis," Working Papers P45, FERDI.
    16. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2013. "Changing Technologies of Household Production: Causes and Effects," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2013-004, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    17. Hadi Esfahani & Roksana Bahramitash & Bin Lin, 2016. "Gender and Labour Allocation: the Role of Institutions and Policies in the Allocation of Female and Male Labor," Working Papers 998, Economic Research Forum, revised May 2016.
    18. Matias Busso & Dario Romero Fonseca, 2015. "Female Labor Force Participation in Latin America: Patterns and Explanations," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0187, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    19. Piotr Lewandowski & Iga Magda & Jan Baran & Olena Fedyuk & Attila Bartha, 2013. "Gender Dimensions of the Labour Markets over the Past Two Decades," IBS Working Papers 1/2013, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    20. repec:pit:wpaper:355 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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