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Women’s Participation in Labor Force

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Women’s Participation in Labor Force

The labor market is ever changing. It is dependent upon many different decisions made by individuals and firms. Other things can affect the market, like natural disasters, recessions, and cultural changes. The labor participation has been affected in many ways by how the actual culture has changed, mainly because of labor force participation by women. Women have been increasingly joining the labor force every decade. From 1970 to 1999 the percentage of women whom have joined has increased by 60%(Chao).

The increase to women’s participation in the labor force is because of many factors. In the early 1940’s many men left America’s work force and were called for war. This led many women to join the workforce, with the shortage of supply of male workers. Although at this time many women joined the labor force they were being paid an incredibly smaller wage than the men they replaced. In 1942 the National War Labor Board recommended firms to pay an equal salary or wage to women that was comparable to the same type of work men were performing (Brunner). This request was not a law and firms did not voluntarily jump to pay women a higher wage, so in 1963 the Equal Pay Act was enforced. This law made it illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job based merely on their sex. Women still had been receiving considerably lower wages than males for years before the law was in place, so between 1964 and 1971 back wages totaling more than $26 million were paid to 71,000 women (Brunner). Generations later women could not possibly believe the actual and obvious discrimination that women received, like segregated listings of wages based on gender for the same job, but we all know that women’s wages are still lower than men’s. In 2005 women’s wages were still only 81% of men’s wages (Brunner).

This increase in the market wage for women has a great impact on their choices of joining the labor market, especially non-working women. The increase in the market wage causes for an incentive to reduce time on household labor and paid labor. Non-working women will choose to substitute leisure (housework) for labor when there is an increase in the wage. In this case the market wage becomes higher than the women’s reservation’s wage. When their market wage is larger than their reservation wage they will choose to join the workforce.

Education is another reason for women’s enhancement in the labor market. Women’s pursuit for education has grown, along with the acceptance for women to join college campuses. “In 1970 only 11% of women age 25 to 64 years had completed four or more years of college; 32% held college degrees, by 2001” (Chao). According to the Human Capital Theory the more human capital a person has the more skilled they will be and the higher the wage will be. Women’s rising involvement in schooling will increase their human capital and wage.

Technology has also increased women’s participation in the labor force. Technology has improved appliances in homes, like microwaves, washing machines, and computers. These advances have reduced the time women spend on chores such as cooking and cleaning, releasing time for more work in the paid market.

Women’s supply rates are more elastic in the market than men’s, meaning that they respond to changes in the market wage more than men do. When women’s wages are raised they will adjust by working more hours, whereas men may

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