NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Origins and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation

Leah Platt Boustan, William J. Collins

NBER Working Paper No. 19040
Issued in May 2013
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS

Black women were more likely than white women to participate in the labor force from 1870 until at least 1980 and to hold jobs in agriculture or manufacturing. Differences in observables cannot account for most of this racial gap in labor force participation for the 100 years after Emancipation. The unexplained racial gap may be due to racial differences in stigma associated with women's work, which Goldin (1977) suggested could be traced to cultural norms rooted in slavery. In both nineteenth and twentieth century data, we find evidence of inter-generation transmission of labor force participation from mother to daughter, which is consistent with the role of cultural norms.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19040

Published: The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation, Leah Platt Boustan, William J. Collins. in Human Capital in History: The American Record, Boustan, Frydman, and Margo. 2014

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