Read it here first: NILFs, Women, and the declining Labor Force
In case you missed it, there was a front page NYT story on Women's decreasing work force participation.
Here's a quick excerpt:
"For four decades, the number of women entering the workplace grew at a blistering pace, fostering a powerful cultural and economic transformation of American society. But since the mid-1990's, the growth in the percentage of adult women working outside the home has stalled, even slipping somewhat in the last five years and leaving it at a rate well below that of men.
While the change has been under way for a while, it was initially viewed by many experts as simply a pause in the longer-term movement of women into the work force. But now, social scientists are engaged in a heated debate over whether the gender revolution at work may be over.
Is this shift evidence for the popular notion that many mothers are again deciding that they prefer to stay at home and take care of their children?
Maybe, but many researchers are coming to a different conclusion: women are not choosing to stay out of the labor force because of a change in attitudes, they say. Rather, the broad reconfiguration of women's lives that allowed most of them to pursue jobs outside the home appears to be hitting some serious limits.
I find it to be more economic than attitudinal in nature:
"To be sure, mothers' overcrowded lives have not been the only factor limiting their roles in the work force. The decline in participation rates for most groups of women since the recession of 2001 at least partly reflects an overall slowdown in hiring, which affected men and women roughly equally.
"The main reason for women's declining labor-force participation rates over the last four years was the weakness of the labor market," said Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research institute in Washington. "Women did not opt out of the labor force because of the kids."
To be fair, the decline did begin "well before the economic slump a few year ago."
Stretched to Limit, Women Stall March to Work
NYT, March 2, 2006
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Even if the female (age 24-54) participation rate continues to decline to say, 65% it still represents a revolution compared to 35% immediately after World War II.
I believe the recent decline has a lot to do with rising health care costs and changing societal norms about child supervision. As a member of the 1980s "latch-key" kids, I just don't think parents are legally allowed to raise kids today, the way many of us were raised twenty years ago.
Posted by: DJ | Mar 2, 2006 12:44:51 PM
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