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Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000

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  • Blau, Francine D.

    () (Cornell University)

  • Kahn, Lawrence M.

    () (Cornell University)

Abstract

Using March Current Population Survey (CPS) data, we investigate married women’s labor supply behavior from 1980 to 2000. We find that their labor supply function for annual hours shifted sharply to the right in the 1980s, with little shift in the 1990s. In an accounting sense, this is the major reason for the more rapid growth of female labor supply observed in the 1980s, with an additional factor being that husbands’ real wages fell slightly in the 1980s but rose in the 1990s. Moreover, a major new development was that, during both decades, there was a dramatic reduction in women’s own wage elasticity. And, continuing past trends, women’s labor supply also became less responsive to their husbands’ wages. Between 1980 and 2000, women’s own wage elasticity fell by 50 to 56 percent, while their cross wage elasticity fell by 38 to 47 percent in absolute value. These patterns hold up under virtually all alternative specifications correcting for: selectivity bias in observing wage offers; selection into marriage; income taxes and the earned income tax credit; measurement error in wages and work hours; and omitted variables that affect both wage offers and the propensity to work; as well as when age groups, education groups and mothers of small children are analyzed separately.

Suggested Citation

  • Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M., 2006. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 2180, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2180
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    Cited by:

    1. Esfandiar Maasoumi & Daniel L. Millimet & Dipanwita Sarkar, 2009. "Who Benefits from Marriage?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(1), pages 1-33, February.
    2. Antecol, Heather & Steinberger, Michael D., 2009. "Female Labor Supply Differences by Sexual Orientation: A Semi-Parametric Decomposition Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 4029, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Morissette, Rene & Ostrovsky, Yuri, 2008. "How Do Families and Unattached Individuals Respond to Layoffs? Evidence from Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008304e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. Jacobsen, Joyce P. & Khamis, Melanie & Yuksel, Mutlu, 2014. "Convergences in Men's and Women's Life Patterns: Lifetime Work, Lifetime Earnings, and Human Capital Investment," IZA Discussion Papers 8425, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Alessandra Fogli & Laura Veldkamp, 2007. "Nature or nurture? learning and female labor force dynamics," Staff Report 386, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. Thomas Moutos, 2006. "Technological Change, Inequality And Work Sharing," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 53(3), pages 305-318, July.
    7. Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture as Learning: The Evolution of Female Labor Force Participation over a Century," 2009 Meeting Papers 78, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Chinhui Juhn & Simon Potter, 2006. "Changes in Labor Force Participation in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 27-46, Summer.
    9. Krzysztof Karbownik & Michal Myck, 2012. "For Some Mothers More than Others: How Children Matter for Labour Market Outcomes When Both Fertility and Female Employment Are Low," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1208, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Günseli Berik & Ebru Kongar, 2011. "Time Use of Mothers and Fathers in Hard Times and Better Times: the U.S. Business Cycle of 2003-2010," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2011_16, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    11. Michiel Evers & Ruud de Mooij & Daniël van Vuuren, 2005. "What explains the variation in estimates of labour supply elasticities?," CPB Discussion Paper 51, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    12. Hélène Périvier, 2008. "L'impact de la Maternité sur l'Activité des Femmes aux Etats-Unis," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 51(2/3), pages 221-242.
    13. Samuel H. Preston & Caroline Sten Hartnett, 2008. "The Future of American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 14498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    15. Xin Long & Robert Waldmann & Alessandra Pelloni, 2008. "Lump-Sum Taxes in a R&D Model," Working Paper series 35_08, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    16. Matias Busso & Dario Romero Fonseca, 2015. "Female Labor Force Participation in Latin America: Patterns and Explanations," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0187, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    17. Jane Leber Herr & Catherine Wolfram, 2009. "Work Environment and "Opt-Out" Rates at Motherhood Across High-Education Career Paths," NBER Working Papers 14717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; labor supply; married women;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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