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Human Capital in HistoryThe American Record$
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Leah Platt Boustan, Carola Frydman, and Robert A. Margo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226163895

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226163925.001.0001

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The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women’s Labor Force Participation

The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women’s Labor Force Participation

Chapter:
(p.204) (p.205) 6 The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women’s Labor Force Participation
Source:
Human Capital in History
Author(s):

Leah Platt Boustan

Carola Frydman

Robert A. Margo

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226163925.003.0007

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.

Keywords:   black-white differences, female labor force participation, female occupation distribution, intergenerational, slavery, post-emancipation, cultural norms

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