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Gender Roles and Medical Progress

  • Stefania Albanesi
  • Claudia Olivetti

The entry of married women into the labor force is one of the most notable economic phenomena of the twentieth century. We argue that medical progress played a critical role in this process. Improved maternal health alleviated the adverse effects of pregnancy and childbirth on women's ability to work, while the introduction of infant formula reduced mothers' comparative advantage in infant feeding. We construct economic measures of these two dimensions of medical progress and develop a quantitative model that aims to capture their impact. Our results suggests that these advances, by enabling women to reconcile work and motherhood, were essential for the rise in married women's participation and the evolution of their economic role.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14873.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14873
Note: DAE EFG
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  17. Martha J Bailey, 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Life Cycle Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320, 02.
  18. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
  19. Oliveira, Victor & Davis, David E., 2006. "Recent Trends and Economic Issues in the WIC Infant Formula Rebate Program," Economic Research Report 7228, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  20. Jonathan Guryan & Erik Hurst & Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2008. "Parental Education and Parental Time With Children," NBER Working Papers 13993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  28. Melissa A. Thomasson & Jaret Treber, 2004. "From Home to Hospital: The Evolution of Childbirth in the United States, 1927-1940," NBER Working Papers 10873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Stefania Albanesi, 2009. "Comment on "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households"," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 277-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Eckstein, Zvi & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1989. "Dynamic Labour Force Participation of Married Women and Endogenous Work Experience," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 375-90, July.
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