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Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • David H. Autor
  • David Lyle

Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of female labor supply on the wage structure. To identify variation in female labor supply, we exploit the military mobilization for World War II, which drew many women into the workforce as males exited civilian employment. The extent of mobilization was not uniform across states, however, with the fraction of eligible males serving ranging from 41 to 54 percent. We find that in states with greater mobilization of men, women worked substantially more after the War and in 1950, though not in 1940. We interpret these differentials as labor supply shifts induced by the War. We find that increases in female labor supply lower female wages, lower male wages, and increase the college and premium and male wage inequality generally. Our findings indicate that at mid-century, women were closer substitutes to high school graduate and relatively low-skill males, but not to those with the lowest skills.
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Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:112:y:2004:i:3:p:497-551
    DOI: 10.1086/383100
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John DiNardo & David Card, 2000. "Do Immigrant Inflows Lead to Native Outflows?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 360-367, May.
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    4. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large Are Human Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury (JPE 2004) in ReplicationWiki
    2. Labor Economics (ECON 431-531)

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