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Life-Cycle Labor-Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications


  • Goldin, Claudia


The seven-fold increase, since 1920, in the labor force participation rate of married women was not accompanied by a substantial increase in average work experience among employed married women. Two data sets giving life-cycle labor-force histories for cohorts of women born from the 1880s to 1910s indicate considerable (unconditional) heterogeneity in labor-force participation. Employed married women had substantial attachment to their jobs; increased participation brought in women with little prior work experience. Average work experience among cross sections of employed married women increased from 9.1 to 10.5 years over the 1930-50 period. Implications for "wage discrimination" are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Life-Cycle Labor-Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications," Scholarly Articles 2656816, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2656816

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1973. "Labor-Force Participation Rates and the Supply of Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 697-704, May-June.
    3. Heckman, James J & Willis, Robert J, 1977. "A Beta-logistic Model for the Analysis of Sequential Labor Force Participation by Married Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 27-58, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Audrey Light, 2004. "Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(2), pages 263-284, May.
    2. Mincer, Jacob, 1985. "Intercountry Comparisons of Labor Force Trends and of Related Developments: An Overview," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-32, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Claudia Goldin & Joshua Mitchell, 2017. "The New Life Cycle of Women's Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 161-182, Winter.
    5. Michal Myck & Gillian Paull, 2001. "The role of employment experience in explaining the gender wage gap," IFS Working Papers W01/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Krapf, Matthias & Ursprung, Heinrich W. & Zimmermann, Christian, 2017. "Parenthood and productivity of highly skilled labor: Evidence from the groves of academe," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 147-175.
    7. Hazan, Moshe & Maoz, Yishay D., 2010. "Women's lifetime labor supply and labor market experience," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2126-2140, October.
    8. Miguel Malo & Fernando Muñoz-Bullón, 2008. "Women’s family-related career breaks: a long-term British perspective," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 127-167, June.
    9. T. Aldrich Finegan & Robert A. Margo, 1993. "Added and Discouraged Workers in the Late 1930s: A Re-Examination," NBER Historical Working Papers 0045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Leah Platt Boustan & William J. Collins, 2014. "The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 205-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Arango Luis E. & Carlos E. Posada, 2007. "Labor Participation of Married Women in Colombia," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, October.
    12. Lynn E. Browne, 1990. "Why do New Englanders work so much?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 33-46.
    13. Catherine Weinberger & Peter Kuhn, 2006. "The Narrowing of the U.S. Gender Earnings Gap, 1959-1999: A Cohort-Based Analysis," NBER Working Papers 12115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Pedro J. Martinez Edo, 2011. "Reciprocal liberalization: Bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral?," STUDIES IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    15. Elaine Sorensen, 1993. "Continuous Female Workers: How Different Are They from Other Women?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 15-32, Winter.
    16. Abe, Yukiko, 2010. "Equal Employment Opportunity Law and the gender wage gap in Japan: A cohort analysis," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 142-155, April.
    17. 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.
    18. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:103-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Donna K. Ginther & Chinhui Juhn, 2001. "Employment of women and demand-side forces," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2001-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    20. Richard Johnson, 2001. "Effects of old-age insurance on female retirement : evidence from cross-country time-series data," Research Working Paper RWP 01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    21. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:360-380 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Steven Frank & Richard Mckenzie, 2006. "The Male-Female Pay Gap Driven by Coupling between Labor Markets and Mating Markets," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 269-274, December.

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