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Reversals in the Patterns of Women's Labor Supply in the U.S., 1976-2009

Author

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  • Macunovich, Diane J.

    () (University of Redlands)

Abstract

Despite strong increases in women's labor force participation – especially among married women with children – in the 1980s, and somewhat less strong increases in the 1990s, the first decade of the twenty-first century has seen declines across the board. These have been especially marked among single women, women with no children, and women with more than 16 years of education. Single women with no children have experienced declines of 7.2, 6.2 and 3.6 percentage points since the late 1980s, among women with less than 16, 16, and more than 16 years of education, respectively. Own-wage elasticities have increased since 2000, after decreasing in the previous 20 years, and the absolute value of cross-wage elasticities has also increased, after declining for at least 20 years. Despite this, the absolute value of elasticities with respect to the presence of children has for the most part continued to decline. Measured factors cannot explain the marked declines in hours worked that have been observed, suggesting that while the labor supply function was hypothesized to have shifted to the right in the 1980s and 1990s, it has shifted back to the left since the late 1990s. And the characteristics of single and childless women dropping out of the labor force after 1999 have changed: they on average had worked more hours, earned more per hour, enjoyed less other income, and had fewer children, than those who had dropped out prior to 1999.

Suggested Citation

  • Macunovich, Diane J., 2009. "Reversals in the Patterns of Women's Labor Supply in the U.S., 1976-2009," IZA Discussion Papers 4512, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4512
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bradley T. Heim, 2007. "The Incredible Shrinking Elasticities: Married Female Labor Supply, 1978–2002," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
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    5. Heather Boushey, 2005. "Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2005-36, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
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    8. 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.
    9. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980–2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 393-438.
    10. Saul D. Hoffman, 2008. "The Changing Impact of Marriage and Children on Women’s Labor Force Participation," Working Papers 08-19, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brilli, Ylenia, 2015. "Mother's Time Allocation, Child Care and Child Cognitive Development," Economics Working Papers MWP2015/03, European University Institute.
    2. Kumar, Anil & Liang, Che-Yung, 2015. "Declining female labor supply elasticities in the U.S. and implications for tax policy: evidence from panel data," Working Papers 1501, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    3. Christopher J. Erceg & Andrew T. Levin, 2014. "Labor Force Participation and Monetary Policy in the Wake of the Great Recession," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(S2), pages 3-49, October.
    4. Anil Kumar, 2016. "Lifecycle-consistent female labor supply with nonlinear taxes: evidence from unobserved effects panel data models with censoring, selection and endogeneity," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 207-229, March.
    5. Robert A. Moffitt, 2012. "The Reveral of the Employment-Population Ratio in the 2000s: Facts and Explanations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 201-264.
    6. Seonyoung Park, 2014. "Recent Stagnation of Married Women’s Labor Supply: A Life-Cycle Structural Model," Working Papers 14-10, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    7. Jeff Larrimore & Richard V. Burkhauser & Philip Armour, 2013. "Accounting for Income Changes over the Great Recession (2007-2010) Relative to Previous Recessions: The Importance of Taxes and Transfers," NBER Working Papers 19699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Robert A. Moffitt, 2012. "The U.S. Employment-Population Reversal in the 2000s: Facts and Explanations," Economics Working Paper Archive 604, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    9. Sudipto Banerjee & David Blau, 2013. "Employment Trends by Age in the United States: Why Are Older Workers Different?," Working Papers wp285, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    10. Joni Hersch, 2013. "Opting out among women with elite education," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 469-506, December.
    11. Robert A. Moffitt, 2012. "The Reveral of the Employment-Population Ratio in the 2000s: Facts and Explanations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 43(2 (Fall)), pages 201-264.
    12. Sudipto Banerjee & David Blau, 2016. "Employment Trends by Age in the United States: Why Are Older Workers Different?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(1), pages 163-199.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    effect of children on women's labor force participation; women's labor force participation; women's labor supply; opt-out revolution; women's own-wage elasticities;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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