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

Claudia Goldin and Joshua Mitchell

Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2017, vol. 31, issue 1, 161-82

Abstract: A new life cycle of women's employment emerged with cohorts born in the 1950s. For prior cohorts, life-cycle 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 life cycle 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 data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the Health and Retirement Study. 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 life cycle.

JEL-codes: D91 J16 J22 N32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.31.1.161
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Related works:
Working Paper: The New Lifecycle of Women's Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middle, Expanding Tops (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: The New Lifecycle of Women’s Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops (2016) Downloads
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