The Ups and Downs in Women’s Employment—Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1980-2010?

Kristin Smith, University of New Hampshire

Women’s employment increased over the 1980s, plateaued over the 1990s, and decreased after 2000. This research examines shifts in women’s employment from 1980-2010 and investigates whether changes are due to shifts in the inclination of women to work for pay or are simply due to shifts in the composition of the population of women and their characteristics. I assess how the determinants of women’s employment have changed over time using logistic regression, and then use methods of regression decomposition to decompose shifts in women’s employment into two components, composition (shifting demographics) and coefficient (shifting inclinations). The main driver behind the change in women’s employment over the decades is due to changes in the coefficients, with behavior change among married mothers playing a crucial role. However, a shift in the behavior of women with higher education depressed women’s employment over the 1990s may be connected to the stalling of women’s employment.

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Presented in Poster Session 5