Participation Rate and Labour Force Growth in Canada

78 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010 Last revised: 19 Jun 2010

See all articles by Harvey Sims

Harvey Sims

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dan Ciuriak

Ciuriak Consulting Inc.; Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI); C.D. Howe Institute; Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; BKP Development Research & Consulting GmbH

Date Written: April 1, 1980


This paper analyzes the determinants of participation rate movements in Canada from the early 1950s through the 1970s, with a particular focus on the socio-economic determinants of the changing labour force attachment of successive cohorts of adult men and women and young persons, and develops projections of participation rate and labour force growth to the year 2000.

A wide variety of sociological and economic forces is identified as contributing to the remarkably steady growth of women's labour force participation since the early 1950s including: the rising material aspirations of families; the development of new birth control techniques; very pronounced changes in attitudes with respect to desired family size; changes in women’s personal aspirations, as reflected in the increasing average educational attainments of women; the sharply rising incidence of marriage break-down and divorce; the expansion of the service sectors of industrialized economies; and the growth in the range of household labour-saving devices and convenience products. Notably,the largest increases in women's participation rates were recorded by women with very young children present in the home. The apparent stability of the participation rate of adult men is identified as resulting from different influences working in opposite directions; namely rising average educational attainments that operated to increase their participation and improvements in social security and other factors that worked to decrease their participation.

For young persons, labour force participation patterns appear to be related to changes in the economic returns to higher education. The high monetary rewards to further education in the 1950s and 1960s were associated with declining participation rates and rising school enrollment rates; the decline in the returns to education in the 1970s was associated with declining (or more slowly rising) enrollment rates, and rising participation rates.


Keywords: Canada, participation rates, labour force, women, men, young persons

JEL Classification: J11, J12, J13, J14, J16, J21, J24, J26, J31, J32

Suggested Citation

Sims, Harvey and Ciuriak, Dan, Participation Rate and Labour Force Growth in Canada (April 1, 1980). Available at SSRN: or

Harvey Sims

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Dan Ciuriak (Contact Author)

Ciuriak Consulting Inc. ( email )

83 Stewart St.
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6H9

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) ( email )

57 Erb Street West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6C2

C.D. Howe Institute ( email )

67 Yonge St., Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M5E 1J8

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada ( email )



BKP Development Research & Consulting GmbH ( email )

Romanstrasse 74
München, 80639

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