Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000

65 Pages Posted: 10 May 2005 Last revised: 9 Sep 2010

See all articles by Francine D. Blau

Francine D. Blau

Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Lawrence M. Kahn

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Date Written: March 2005

Abstract

Using March Current Population Survey (CPS) data, we investigate married women's labor supply behavior from 1980 to 2000. We find that their labor supply function for annual hours shifted sharply to the right in the 1980s, with little shift in the 1990s. In an accounting sense, this is the major reason for the more rapid growth of female labor supply observed in the 1980s, with an additional factor being that husbands' real wages fell slightly in the 1980s but rose in the 1990s. Moreover, a major new development was that, during both decades, there was a dramatic reduction in women's own wage elasticity. And, continuing past trends, women's labor supply also became less responsive to their husbands' wages. Between 1980 and 2000, women's own wage elasticity fell by 50 to 56 percent, while their cross wage elasticity fell by 38 to 47 percent in absolute value. These patterns hold up under virtually all alternative specifications correcting for: selectivity bias in observing wage offers; selection into marriage; income taxes and the earned income tax credit; measurement error in wages and work hours; and omitted variables that affect both wage offers and the propensity to work; as well as when education groups and mothers of small children are analyzed separately.

Suggested Citation

Blau, Francine D. and Kahn, Lawrence M., Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000 (March 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11230. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=693091

Francine D. Blau (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
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607-255-4381 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/directory/fdb4/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Germany

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

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Berlin, 10117
Germany

Lawrence M. Kahn

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-0510 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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