The New Lifecycle of Women's Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops

39 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016 Last revised: 1 Aug 2019

See all articles by Claudia Goldin

Claudia Goldin

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

Joshua Mitchell

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

A new lifecycle of women’s employment emerged with cohorts born in the 1950s. For prior cohorts, lifecycle employment had a hump shape; it increased from the twenties to the forties, hit a peak and then declined starting in the fifties. The new lifecycle of employment is initially high and flat, there is a dip in the middle and a phasing out that is more prolonged than for previous cohorts. The hump is gone, the middle is a bit sagging and the top has greatly expanded. We explore the increase in cumulative work experience for women from the 1930s to the 1970s birth cohorts using the SIPP and the HRS. We investigate the changing labor force impact of a birth event across cohorts and by education and also the impact of taking leave or quitting. We find greatly increased labor force experience across cohorts, far less time out after a birth and greater labor force recovery for those who take paid or unpaid leave. Increased employment of women in their older ages is related to more continuous work experience across the lifecycle.

Suggested Citation

Goldin, Claudia and Mitchell, Joshua, The New Lifecycle of Women's Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops (December 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22913. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883949

Claudia Goldin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
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617-495-3934 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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617-588-0356 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

Joshua Mitchell

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

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