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Gender Roles and Medical Progress

Author

Listed:
  • Stefania Albanesi

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Claudia Olivetti

    (Boston University and NBER)

Abstract

Maternal mortality was the second largest cause of death for women in childbearing years up until the mid-1930s in the United States. For each death, twenty times as many mothers were estimated to suffer pregnancy related conditions, often leading to severe and prolonged disablement. Poor maternal health made it particularly hard for mothers to engage in market work. Between 1930 and 1960 there was a remarkable reduction in maternal mortality and morbidity. We argue that these medical advances, by enabling women to reconcile work and motherhood, were essential for the joint rise in married women's labor force participation and fertility over this period. We also show that the diffusion of infant formula played an important auxiliary role.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2015. "Gender Roles and Medical Progress," Working Papers 2015-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2015-002
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    maternal mortality; female labor force participation; fertility; baby boom; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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