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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
  • José Tavares

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 dataset 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 the impact of fertility and other macroeconomic factors. 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. The impact of the price of appliances is quantitatively of the same order of magnitude as that of fertility. This result is robust to the inclusion of additional controls, such as income per capita, government spending, and male and female unemployment rates. To assess causality, we test for exogeneity and use the lagged relative price of appliances and the food price index as instrumental variables, confirming that lower appliance prices lead to increased female participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Tiago V. de V. Cavalcanti & José Tavares, 2004. "Assessing The "Engines Of Liberation": Home Appliances And Female Labor Force Participation," Anais do XXXII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 32nd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 037, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  • Handle: RePEc:anp:en2004:037
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Paul Gomme & Emanuela Cardia, 2009. "The Household Revolution:Childcare, Housework, and Female Labor Force Participation," 2009 Meeting Papers 773, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    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. 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.
    14. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2013. "Changing Technologies of Household Production: Causes and Effects," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2013-004, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    15. Morrill, Melinda Sandler & Morrill, Thayer, 2013. "Intergenerational links in female labor force participation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 38-47.
    16. 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.
    17. repec:pit:wpaper:355 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
    20. 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.

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    JEL classification:

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

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