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Maximum Hours Legislation and Female Employment: A Reassessment

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  • Goldin, Claudia

Abstract

The causes and results of state maximum hours legislation for female workers, passed from 1848 to the 1920s, are explored and found to differ from the interpretation presented by Landes (1980). Although maximum hours legislation served to decrease scheduled hours in 1920, the effect was minimal. Curiously, the legislation seems to have operated equally for men. Legislation affecting only females was symptomatic of a general desire by labor for lower hours, and these lower hours were achieved in the tight, and otherwise special, World War I labor market. Most significant, the restrictiveness of the legislation had no adverse effect on the employment share of women in manufacturing. Reasons for the relationship between the decline in hours worked by men and legislation protecting women are suggested, but it still is not clear what precise mechanisms operated to decrease hours of work for all.

Suggested Citation

  • Goldin, Claudia, 1988. "Maximum Hours Legislation and Female Employment: A Reassessment," Scholarly Articles 2645471, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2645471
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2017. "The Economic Consequences of Family Policies: Lessons from a Century of Legislation in High-Income Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 205-230, Winter.
    2. Costa, Dora L, 2000. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 156-181, January.
    3. Bruce G. Carruthers & Naomi R. Lamoreaux, 2016. "Regulatory Races: The Effects of Jurisdictional Competition on Regulatory Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(1), pages 52-97, March.
    4. Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "A Century of Labor-Leisure Distortions," NBER Working Papers 8774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2003. "Productivity in manufacturing and the length of the working day: evidence from the 1880 census of manufactures," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 170-194, April.
    6. Josh Angrist, 2000. "Consequences of Imbalanced Sex Ratios: Evidence from America's Second Generation," NBER Working Papers 8042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Kato, Takao & Kodama, Naomi, 2014. "Labor Market Deregulation and Female Employment: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 8189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Yana van der Meulen Rodgers & Gunseli Berik, 2006. "Asia's Race to Capture Post-MFA Markets: A Snapshot of Labor Standards, Compliance, and Impacts on Competitiveness," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2006_02, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    9. Michael Huberman & Chris Minns, 2005. "Hours of Work in Old and New Worlds: The Long View, 1870-2000," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp95, IIIS.
    10. Joseph E. Zveglich & Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, 2003. "The Impact of Protective Measures for Female Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 533-556, July.
    11. Jonathan Conning & Michael Kevane, 2005. "Freedom, Servitude and Voluntary Contract," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 408, Hunter College Department of Economics.
    12. Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
    13. Dora L. Costa, 1998. "Hours of Work and the Fair Labor Standards Act: A Study of Retail and Wholesale Trade, 1938-1950," NBER Working Papers 6855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Huberman, Michael & Minns, Chris, 2007. "The times they are not changin': Days and hours of work in Old and New Worlds, 1870-2000," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 538-567, October.
    15. Casey B. Mulligan & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Population and Regulation," NBER Working Papers 10234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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