IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Household Technology: Was it the Engine of Liberation?}


  • Emanuela Cardia

    (Universite de Montreal)


Home production has dramatically changed during the course of the 20th century and labor saving technologies, from running water to modern appliances, have freed considerable amount of time from home production. In an influential paper Greenwood, Seshadri and Yorukoglu (2005) examine the role of the household technology revolution in liberating women from household's chores by simulating a general equilibrium model with home production and show that productivity growth in the durable sector alone can explain a large part of the increase in married women's labor participation in the US. This paper uses 1940 and 1950 US Census data to assess the impact of plumbing facilities and modern refrigeration (which presence nearly doubled during the decade) on female labor force. It finds that increased female labor force participation rates are correlated with the increased adoption of indoor plumbing facilities but not with the increased adoption of modern refrigeration. For US counties in the south\ however there is a strong positive correlation between increases in female labor force rates and the adoption of modern refrigeration. One interpretation is that in these counties the benefits of modern refrigeration were higher because of the weather. The female occupation that was affected the most from the dramatic improvements in home productions was the one of domestics, which ratio to total employment halved. The implications of these results are important to modelling technological changes to the household production function and imply giving less weight to durables - or formal inclusion of substitutes - and more weight to improvements to the structure of the house.

Suggested Citation

  • Emanuela Cardia, 2008. "Household Technology: Was it the Engine of Liberation?}," 2008 Meeting Papers 826, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:826

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Coen-Pirani, Daniele & León, Alexis & Lugauer, Steven, 2010. "The effect of household appliances on female labor force participation: Evidence from microdata," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 503-513, June.
    2. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2011. "The Role of Technological Change in Increasing Gender Equity with a Focus on Information and Communications Technologyy," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2011-007, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    3. Dachs, Bernhard, 2017. "The impact of new technologies on the labour market and the social economy," MPRA Paper 90519, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Zhongda Li & Lu Liu, 2019. "Preference or endowment? Intergenerational transmission of women’s work behavior and the underlying mechanisms," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(4), pages 1401-1435, October.
    5. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2013. "Changing Technologies of Household Production: Causes and Effects," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2013-004, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    6. Pierre-Richard Agénor & Madina Agénor, 2014. "Infrastructure, women’s time allocation, and economic development," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 1-30, September.
    7. Alexis León, 2008. "The Effect of Household Appliances on Female Labor Force Participation: Evidence from Micro Data," Working Paper 355, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh, revised Apr 2009.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed008:826. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Christian Zimmermann (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.