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The Household Revolution: Childcare, Housework,and Female Labor Force Participation

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Over the twentieth century, the amount of time that married women devoted to working in the market increased dramatically. This paper explores the implications for the allocation of womens' time stemming from: (1) the durable goods revolution associated with the introduction of new technologies, from running water to modern appliances, that significantly reduced the time demands of home production; (2) the increase in the relative wage of women, from roughly $50$\% to over $80$\%; and (3) changes in childcare requirements associated with changes in fertility patterns. To do so, we construct a life-cycle model with home production and childcare constraints. The parameters of the childcare production function are chosen to match micro evidence from U.S.\@ time use data. We find that the increase in the relative wage of women is the most important explanation of the increase in married womens' market work time over the twentieth century. Increases in relative wages and decreases in fertility can also explain a large part of the observed decrease in housework. The model finds that the the declining price of durable goods has an appreciable effect only since 1980.

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  • Emanuela Cardia & Paul Gomme, 2011. "The Household Revolution: Childcare, Housework,and Female Labor Force Participation," Working Papers 11006, Concordia University, Department of Economics, revised 19 Jul 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:crd:wpaper:11006
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    1. World Bank, 2011. "Work and Family : Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance [Trabajo & familia : mujeres de América Latina y el Caribe en busca de un nuevo equilibrio - Resumen ejecuivo (Vol. 2," World Bank Publications - Reports 12489, The World Bank Group.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household Technology; Childcare; Women Labor Force Participation; Home Production;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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