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Women, Work, and Children: Behavioral and Attitudinal Change in the United States

Ronald R. Rindfuss, Karin L. Brewster and Andrew L. Kavee
Population and Development Review
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 457-482
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2137716
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137716
Page Count: 26
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Women, Work, and Children: Behavioral and Attitudinal Change in the United States
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Abstract

The United States at mid-century had a strong norm that mothers of young children should be full-time homemakers. Since then, there has been a strong trend toward higher levels of labor force participation of mothers of preschool-age children. Since the early 1970s, this trend in labor force participation has been accompanied by stable fertility rates. In this article, using attitudinal data, the authors show that there has been a substantial weakening of the norm that mothers of preschool children should stay home with their children. This change in measured attitudes is pervasive and appears to have been led by well-diffused behavioral change. The authors conclude by arguing that this change in attitudes has played an important role in the stabilizing of US fertility levels.

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