The Labor Force Participation of Older Americans in 1900: Further Results
NBER Historical Working Paper No. 27
Data from the public use sample of the 1900 census are used to study the proper labor force classification of older male Americans experiencing 6 months or more of unemployment in the previous year ("long-term unemployed"). In terms of their personal characteristics, the long-term unemployed were similar in many respects to persons with a gainful occupation. Because the probability of re-employment, conditional on unemployment, appears to have declined with age, the probability of experiencing long-term unemployment rose as persons aged. Census data are consistent with the view that the older an individual was upon entering the status of long-term unemployment, the greater the likelihood the person would leave the labor force in a short period of time. I conclude, however, that this is insufficient reason to exclude the long-term unemployed from the count of gainful workers in 1900, as has recently been advocated.
Published: Explorations in Economic History, vol 30, October 1993: p. 409-423