Shocking Labor Supply: A Reassessment of the Role of World War Ii on U.S. Women's Labor Supply

34 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2013 Last revised: 19 Jan 2013

See all articles by Claudia Goldin

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2013

Abstract

The most prominent feature of the female labor force across the past hundred years is its enormous growth. But many believe that the increase was discontinuous. Our purpose is to identify the short- and long-run impacts of WWII on the labor supply of women who were currently married in 1950 and 1960. We use mobilization rates for various groups of men (by age, race, fatherhood) to see whether there was a wartime impact. We find that an aggregate mobilization rate produces the largest and most robust impacts on both weeks worked and the labor force participation of married white (non-farm) women. The impact, moreover, was experienced primarily by women in the top half of the education distribution. Women who were married but without children during WWII were the group most impacted by the mobilization rate in 1950, although by 1960 WWII still influenced the labor supply decisions of them as well as those with children during WWII. We end the paper with a resolution between the watershed and revisionist views of the role of WWII on female labor supply.

Suggested Citation

Goldin, Claudia and Olivetti, Claudia, Shocking Labor Supply: A Reassessment of the Role of World War Ii on U.S. Women's Labor Supply (January 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w18676. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2198263

Claudia Goldin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Claudia Olivetti

Boston College ( email )

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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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