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Preference Formation and the Rise of Women's Labor Force Participation: Evidence from WWII

  • Raquel Fernandez
  • Alessandra Fogli
  • Claudia Olivetti

This paper presents intergenerational evidence in favor of the hypothesis that a significant factor explaining the increase in female labor force participation over time was the growing presence of men who grew up with a different family model--one in which their mother worked. We use differences in mobilization rates of men across states during WWII as a source of exogenous variation in female labor supply. We show, in particular, that higher WWII male mobilization rates led to a higher fraction of women working not only for the generation directly affected by the war, but also for the next generation. These women were young enough to profit from the changed composition in the pool of men (i.e., from the fact that WWII created more men with mothers who worked). We also show that states in which the ratio of the average fertility of working relative to non-working women is greatest, have higher female labor supply twenty years later.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10589.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10589.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10589
Note: EFG LS LE
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  1. Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2002. "Marrying Your Mom: Preference Transmission and Women's Labor and Education Choices," NBER Working Papers 9234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Smith, James P & Ward, Michael P, 1985. "Time-Series Growth in the Female Labor Force," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S59-90, January.
  3. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2002. "Engines of Liberation," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 2, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
  5. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
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