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High-Powered Jobs: Can Contraception Technology Explain Trends in Women's Occupational Choice?


  • John Knowles

    (University of Southampton)


The rate at which young women enter managerial /professional occupations began to rise steadily in the early1960s, when oral contraceptives first became available in the US. The fact that young mothers are comparatively rare in these occupations suggests that the advent of more effective contraception may have played an important role in the occupational trend. This paper develops a lifecycle model of contraception, abortion and occupational choice and calibrates the steady state to household survey data on contraception,pregnancy and fertility histories by occupation for the 1990s. Computational experiments are used to measure how much of the trends in occupation , women's LFP and the gender wage gap could be explained by the changes in birth-control technologies since 1960.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knowles, 2009. "High-Powered Jobs: Can Contraception Technology Explain Trends in Women's Occupational Choice?," 2009 Meeting Papers 865, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:865

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