The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family

26 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2004 Last revised: 25 Sep 2010

See all articles by Claudia Goldin

Claudia Goldin

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

Date Written: March 2004


The career and family outcomes of college graduate women suggest that the twentieth century contained five distinct cohorts.' Each cohort made choices concerning career and family subject to different constraints. The first cohort, graduating college from the beginning of the twentieth century to the close of World War I, had either family or career.' The second, graduating college from around 1920 to the end of World War II, had job then family.' The third cohort the college graduate mothers of the baby boom' graduated college from around 1946 to the mid-1960s and had family then job.' The fourth cohort graduated college from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Using the NLS Young Women I demonstrate that 13 to 18 percent achieved career then family' by age 40. The objective of the fifth cohort, graduating from around 1980 to 1990, has been career and family,' and 21 to 28 percent (using the NLS Youth) have realized that goal by age 40. I trace the demographic and labor force experiences of these five cohorts of college graduates and discuss why career and family' outcomes changed over time.

Suggested Citation

Goldin, Claudia, The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family (March 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10331. Available at SSRN:

Claudia Goldin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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