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Did British Women Achieve Long-Term Economic Benefits from Working in Essential WWII Industries?

  • Hart, Robert A.

    ()

    (University of Stirling)

Between mid-1939 and mid-1943 almost 2.2 million additional women were recruited into Britain's essential war industries. These consisted, predominantly, of young women recruited into metal and chemical industries. Much of the increased labour supply was achieved through government directed labour initiatives. This culminated, in January 1942, with the Control of Engagement Order whereby women between the ages of 18 and 40 who either entered the labour market or who changed employment were compulsorily directed into jobs and industries that were vital to the war effort. There were also many woman volunteers for such work, partly due to the fact that extreme labour scarcity drove up relative female wage rates. At least 42% of the 18-20 age cohorts and 32% of the 21-25 age cohorts in 1943 worked in the essential industries. Two-thirds of those involved owed their jobs to wartime industrial expansion. The majority of such women entered a world of work that had been previously dominated by men. They obtained considerable training, job experience and pay advantages compared to subsequent age cohorts who were not eligible for war work. This bestowed on them subsequent labour market advantages that would otherwise not have occurred. Using a regression discontinuity design the empirical work shows that the long term earnings benefits of those age cohorts eligible for conscription, measured 30 years after the war, were in the order of between 2% and 9% higher than the age cohorts that followed them.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4006.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4006
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  1. Hart, Robert A., 2007. "Women doing men's work and women doing women's work: Female work and pay in British wartime engineering," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 114-130, January.
  2. Devereux, Paul J. & Hart, Robert A., 2008. "Forced to Be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 3305, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  5. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2002. "Women, War and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Mid-Century," NBER Working Papers 9013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299, November.
  8. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-86, December.
  9. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
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