Trends in the Well-Being of American Women, 1970-1995

Francine D. Blau

NBER Working Paper No. 6206
Issued in October 1997
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

This paper examines the trends in the well-being of American women over the last 25 years, a time of significant changes in the relative economic status of women and in the labor market as a whole. A broad range of indicators are considered to capture changes in women's well-being in the family as well as in the labor market. For virtually all age and education groups, substantial evidence is obtained of rising gender equality in labor market outcomes, notably labor force participation, wages, and occupational distributions. Broad evidence is also found of greater gender parity within married couple families as the housework time of husbands increased relative to wives' and the relative wages of wives rose compared to their husbands'. However, parallel to the recent evidence of the declining labor market position of lower skilled men, there has been a similar deterioration in the economic status of less educated women, especially high school dropouts. Their labor force participation rates and wages have risen at a much slower pace than those of more highly educated women, while their incidence of single headship has increased much more rapidly. These findings for less educated women serve to underscore the widening gap between more and less skilled Americans of both sexes, as well as to emphasize its broad dimensions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6206

Published: Francine D. Blau, 1998. "Trends in the Well-Being of American Women, 1970-1995," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 112-165, March. citation courtesy of

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