Gender Roles and Medical Progress

48 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2009 Last revised: 23 Aug 2010

See all articles by Stefania Albanesi

Stefania Albanesi

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2009

Abstract

The entry of married women into the labor force is one of the most notable economic phenomena of the twentieth century. We argue that medical progress played a critical role in this process. Improved maternal health alleviated the adverse effects of pregnancy and childbirth on women's ability to work, while the introduction of infant formula reduced mothers' comparative advantage in infant feeding. We construct economic measures of these two dimensions of medical progress and develop a quantitative model that aims to capture their impact. Our results suggests that these advances, by enabling women to reconcile work and motherhood, were essential for the rise in married women's participation and the evolution of their economic role.

Suggested Citation

Albanesi, Stefania and Olivetti, Claudia, Gender Roles and Medical Progress (April 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14873. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1376195

Stefania Albanesi (Contact Author)

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~sa2310/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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