The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family

Claudia Goldin

NBER Working Paper No. 10331
Issued in March 2004
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Labor Studies

The career and family outcomes of college graduate women suggest that the twentieth century contained five distinct cohorts.' Each cohort made choices concerning career and family subject to different constraints. The first cohort, graduating college from the beginning of the twentieth century to the close of World War I, had either family or career.' The second, graduating college from around 1920 to the end of World War II, had job then family.' The third cohort the college graduate mothers of the baby boom' graduated college from around 1946 to the mid-1960s and had family then job.' The fourth cohort graduated college from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Using the NLS Young Women I demonstrate that 13 to 18 percent achieved career then family' by age 40. The objective of the fifth cohort, graduating from around 1980 to 1990, has been career and family,' and 21 to 28 percent (using the NLS Youth) have realized that goal by age 40. I trace the demographic and labor force experiences of these five cohorts of college graduates and discuss why career and family' outcomes changed over time.

download in pdf format
   (448 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the August 2004 NBER Digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10331

Published: Goldin, Claudia. “The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 596 (November 2004): 20-35.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Goldin w11953 The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family
Goldin w10335 From the Valley to the Summit: The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Work
Goldin w5188 Career and Family: College Women Look to the Past
Goldin w4099 The Meaning of College in the Lives of American Women: The Past One-Hundred Years
Goldin, Katz, and Kuziemko w12139 The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us