Inter-Generational Transmission and the 21st Century Rise in Skilled Mothers' Labor Supply

45 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2018

See all articles by Ariel Binder

Ariel Binder

University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, Department of Economics

Date Written: October 11, 2018

Abstract

By most measures, gender progress in the U.S. labor market has stagnated since the 1990s. Yet, this paper reveals that skilled U.S. mothers' full-time employment rate rose by 12 percentage points between 1999 and 2016. After ruling out several standard explanations for such a change, I hypothesize that the surge of skilled mothers entering the full-time workforce in the previous generation has induced a recent shift in household gender norms. I develop a model in which a new mother's ex ante valuation of the disutility of pursuing a career is conditioned by her own mother's prior career behavior, and find empirical support for the model in two-generation datasets constructed from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. An accounting exercise attributes roughly 30 percent of the recent change to the model's inter-generational mechanism. Shifting norms appear to be promoting gender equality in household labor supply in the 21st century.

Keywords: mothers' labor supply, gender norms, inter-generational transmission

JEL Classification: E71, J13, J22

Suggested Citation

Binder, Ariel, Inter-Generational Transmission and the 21st Century Rise in Skilled Mothers' Labor Supply (October 11, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3265242 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3265242

Ariel Binder (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States

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