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Work Environment and "Opt-Out" Rates at Motherhood Across High-Education Career Paths

  • Jane Leber Herr
  • Catherine Wolfram
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    Using data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates and a sample of Harvard alumnae, we study the relationship between work environment and the labor force participation of mothers. We first document a large variation in labor force participation rates across high-education fields. Mindful of the possibility of systematic patterns in the types of women who complete different graduate degrees, we use the rich information available in each dataset, and the longitudinal nature of the Harvard data, to assess the extent to which these labor supply patterns may reflect variation in the difficulty of combining work with family. While it is difficult to entirely rule out systematic sorting, our evidence suggests that non-family-friendly work environments "push" women out of the labor force at motherhood.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14717.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14717.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2009
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    Publication status: published as Title: Work environment and opt-out rates at motherhood across high-education career paths Author(s): Herr J L, Wolfram C D Journal: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Oct 2012, Volume: 65 Issue: 4 pp.928-950 (23 pages) Issn: 0019-7939
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14717
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    1. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
    2. Katz, Lawrence & Goldin, Claudia, 2008. "Transitions: Career and Family Life Cycles of the Educational Elite," Scholarly Articles 2799055, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. Helena Skyt Nielsen & Marianne Simonsen & Mette Verner, . "Does the Gap in Family-Friendly Policies Drive the Family Gap?," Economics Working Papers 2003-1, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
    4. Alessandra Fogli & Laura Veldkamp, 2008. "Nature or Nurture? Learning and the Geography of Female Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 14097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Johnson, Nancy Brown & Provan, Keith G., 1995. "The relationship between work/family benefits and earnings: A test of competing predictions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 571-584.
    6. Flyer, F. & Rosen, S., 1994. "The New Economics of Teachers and Education," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 94-1, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
    7. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000," NBER Working Papers 11230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Heather Boushey, 2005. "Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2005-36, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    9. Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family," NBER Working Papers 11953, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Wood, Robert G & Corcoran, Mary E & Courant, Paul N, 1993. "Pay Differences among the Highly Paid: The Male-Female Earnings Gap in Lawyers' Salaries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 417-41, July.
    11. Paul Oyer, 2006. "The Making of an Investment Banker: Macroeconomic Shocks, Career Choice, and Lifetime Income," NBER Working Papers 12059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-55, July.
    13. Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
    14. 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.
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