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Women's Economic Advancement in the Twentieth-Century United States

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Abstract

The integration of women into formal labor markets was one of the most salient changes of the twentieth century. The female century, in the words of The Economist, witnessed an extraordinary transformation of women s opportunities and outcomes both in and outside the household. My dissertation explores both the causes and the consequences of women s move from home to market in the United States during three episodes of rapid change. It begins by documenting demand-side shifts during the 1940s that increased the earnings and occupational choices of African-American women; then demonstrates the impact of contraceptive technology on the extent and intensity of women s participation in the formal labor market after 1960; and, finally, estimates the consequences of shifts in women s labor supply for the growth of earnings inequality in the United States during the 1980s.

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