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The Meaning of College in the Lives of American Women: The Past One-Hundred Years

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

Today's college women express frustration over the reconciliation of careers as wives or paid workers. The issue is examined in the light of the historical experience of three cohorts of female college graduates in the U.S. The first, graduating 1900-1920, opted heavily for careers in a restricted set of occupations rather than marriage and motherhood. The second cohort, graduating 1940-1960, went to college in larger numbers, made it worthwhile by marrying college men with better income prospects and, like their less educated sisters, had numerous children and went to work only after motherhood and child rearing. The third cohort, graduating 1980 until recently, has had even better college participation and has sought careers based upon their college education. Many have stepped out of those careers into belated motherhood. Others have abandoned prospects of motherhood to continue their careers. Today's college women see no satisfaction in any of those life patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin, 1993. "The Meaning of College in the Lives of American Women: The Past One-Hundred Years," Working Papers 899, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:899
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    File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_899.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia Goldin, 2004. "The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family," NBER Working Papers 10331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "Power Couples: Changes in the Locational Choice of the College Educated, 1940–1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1287-1315.
    3. Gautier, Pieter A. & Svarer, Michael & Teulings, Coen, 2005. "Marriage and the City," IZA Discussion Papers 1491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Pieter Gautier & Michael Svarer & Coen Teulings, 2005. "Testing for Additive Outliers in Seasonally Integrated Time Series," Economics Working Papers 2005-01, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    5. Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Svarer, Michael, 2006. "Educational Homogamy: Preferences or Opportunities?," IZA Discussion Papers 2271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. repec:eee:jeborg:v:140:y:2017:i:c:p:35-55 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-184, Winter.
    8. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2009. "How large are returns to schooling? Hint: Money isn't everything," NBER Working Papers 15339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Michael Kremer, 1996. "How Much Does Sorting Increase Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 5566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Dan Anderberg & Yu Zhu, 2014. "What a difference a term makes: the effect of educational attainment on marital outcomes in the UK," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 387-419, April.
    11. Lisa Jepsen, 2005. "The Relationship Between Wife’s Education and Husband’s Earnings: Evidence from 1960 to 2000," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 197-214, June.
    12. Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2002. "College Attainment of Women," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 965-998, October.
    13. Helena Skyt Nielsen & Michael Svarer, 2009. "Educational Homogamy: How Much is Opportunities?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).

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