Women, War and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Mid-Century

Daron Acemoglu, David H. Autor, David Lyle

NBER Working Paper No. 9013
Issued in June 2002
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Labor Studies

This paper investigates the effects of female labor supply on the wage structure. To identify variation in female labor supply, we exploit the military mobilization for World War II, which drew many women into the workforce as males exited civilian employment. The extent of mobilization was not uniform across states, however, with the fraction of eligible males serving ranging from 41 to 54 percent. We find that in states with greater mobilization of men, women worked substantially more after the War and in 1950, though not in 1940. We interpret these differentials as labor supply shifts induced by the War. We find that increases in female labor supply lower female wages, lower male wages, and increase the college and premium and male wage inequality generally. Our findings indicate that at mid-century, women were closer substitutes to high school graduate and relatively low-skill males, but not to those with the lowest skills.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9013

Published: Acemoglu, Daron, Davidh. Autor and David Lyle. "Women, War, And Wages: The Effect Of Female Labor Supply On The Wage Structure At Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, 2004, v112(3,Jun), 497-551. citation courtesy of

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