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The New Lifecycle of Women’s Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops

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  • Claudia Goldin
  • Joshua Mitchell

Abstract

A new lifecycle of women’s employment emerged with cohorts born in the 1950s. For prior cohorts, lifecycle employment had a hump shape; it increased from the twenties to the forties, hit a peak and then declined starting in the fifties. The new lifecycle of employment is initially high and flat, there is a dip in the middle and a phasing out that is more prolonged than for previous cohorts. The hump is gone, the middle is a bit sagging and the top has greatly expanded. We explore the increase in cumulative work experience for women from the 1930s to the 1970s birth cohorts using the SIPP and the HRS. We investigate the changing labor force impact of a birth event across cohorts and by education and also the impact of taking leave or quitting. We find greatly increased labor force experience across cohorts, far less time out after a birth and greater labor force recovery for those who take paid or unpaid leave. Increased employment of women in their older ages is related to more continuous work experience across the lifecycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin & Joshua Mitchell, 2016. "The New Lifecycle of Women’s Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops," NBER Working Papers 22913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22913
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Life-Cycle Labor-Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 20-47, January.
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    3. Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2008. "Explaining Changes in Female Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1517-1552, September.
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    5. Goldin, Claudia, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women’s Employment, Education, and Family," Scholarly Articles 2943933, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    6. Heckman, James J & Willis, Robert J, 1977. "A Beta-logistic Model for the Analysis of Sequential Labor Force Participation by Married Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 27-58, February.
    7. Nikolay Angelov & Per Johansson & Erica Lindahl, 2016. "Parenthood and the Gender Gap in Pay," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 545-579.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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