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Changes in the distribution of family hours worked since 1950

  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Richard Rogerson

This paper describes trends in average weekly hours of market work per person and per family in the United States between 1950 and 2005. We disaggregate married couple households by skill level to determine if there is a pattern in the hours of work by wives and husbands conditional on either husband's wages or on husband's educational attainment. The wage measure of skill allows us to compare our findings to those of Juhn and Murphy (1997), who report on trends in family labor using a different data set. The educational measure of skill allows us to construct a longer time series. We find several interesting patterns. The married women with the largest increase in market hours are those with high-skilled husbands. When we compare households with different skill mixes, we also find dramatic differences in the time paths, with higher skill households having the largest increase in average hours over time.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 397.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:397
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  1. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
  2. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
  3. Greenwood,J. & Seshadri,A. & Yorukoglu,M., 2002. "Engines of liberation," Working papers 1, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Virginia Sanchez-Marcos & Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low, 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," 2004 Meeting Papers 492, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Larry E. Jones & Rodolfo E. Manuelli & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2003. "Why are married women working so much?," Staff Report 317, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Dora L. Costa, 2000. "From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women's Paid Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 101-122, Fall.
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