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Labor Market Status of Older Males in Early Twentieth Century America

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  • Chulhee Lee

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Abstract

This paper explores the labor market status of older males in the early twentieth century, focusing on the question of whether their departure from employment was forced or voluntary. A comparison of the hazard of retirement across occupations shows that men who had better occupations in terms of economic status and work conditions were less likely to retire than were those with poorer jobs. This result tends to reject the recent view that retirement in the era of industrialization was more voluntary than forced. The difficulty faced by older workers in the labor market, as measured by the relative incidence of long-term unemployment, was relatively severe among craftsmen, operatives, and salesmen. In contrast, aged farmers, professionals, managers, and proprietors appear to have fared well n the labor market. The pattern of shifts in the occupational structure that occurred between 1880 and 1940 suggests that industrialization had brought a growth of the sectors in which the pressure toward departure from employment at old ages should have been relatively great. This result supports the traditional view that industrialization had deteriorated the economic status of the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Chulhee Lee, 2000. "Labor Market Status of Older Males in Early Twentieth Century America," Working Paper Series no27, Institute of Economic Research, Seoul National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:snu:ioerwp:no27
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