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Journal Article

Gender Role Attitudes and Women's Labor Market Participation: Opting-Out, AIDS, and the Persistent Appeal of Housewifery

Nicole M. Fortin
Annals of Economics and Statistics
No. 117/118, SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE ECONOMICS OF GENDER (June 2015), pp. 379-401
Published by: GENES on behalf of ADRES
DOI: 10.15609/annaeconstat2009.117-118.379
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.15609/annaeconstat2009.117-118.379
Page Count: 23
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Gender Role Attitudes and Women's Labor Market Participation: Opting-Out, AIDS, and the Persistent Appeal of Housewifery
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Abstract

After a century of remarkable growth, U.S. female labor force participation (FLP) has leveled-off in the late 1990s, despite continuous improvement in fundamental economic variables, such as educational attainment. Using data from the 1977-2006 General Social Surveys (GSS), this paper studies the impact of changing gender role attitudes on the evolution of FLP. The analysis uses a double prong instrumental variable strategy in the context of a variant of two-sample two-stage least squares (TS2LS). First, it appeals to extraneous attitudes found in the GSS, and second to an exogenous shock to attitudes, namely the AIDS scare, which may have acted as a counter-current to the “Pill Revolution”, using repeated cross-sectional data from the 1988-2006 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS). Gender role attitudes, whose progression stalled in the mid-1990s when the AIDS crisis peaked, are found to explain at least a third of the recent leveling-off in FLP that is, as much as all the usual variables combined. JEL: J16, C3. / KEY WORDS: Gender Role Attitudes, Opting Out, Female Labor Force Participation, HIV/AIDS Scare, Pill Revolution, Cohort Effects.

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