Edited by Ramón Gómez-Salvador, Ana Lamo, Barbara Petrongolo, Melanie Ward and Etienne Wasmer
Chapter 3: Mother’s Changing Labour Supply in Britain, the USA and Sweden
3. Mothers’ changing labour supply in Britain, the USA and Sweden Shirley Dex, Siv Gustafsson, Andrew Jenkins, Heather Joshi, Eiko Kenjoh and Mark R. Killingsworth* Changes in female labour supply were one of the most dramatic features of the labour market in Europe and the USA during the twentieth century, and are likely to be so during the twenty-ﬁrst century as well. Labour supply among men changed relatively little during the last third of the twentieth century. In contrast, labour supply among successive cohorts of women grew more or less continuously, and by substantial amounts. How has this increase in female labour supply come about? What are some of the factors underlying this change? Has this change proceeded more or less equally across the board, or has it occurred at diﬀerent rates in diﬀerent countries and for diﬀerent groups of women (for example, for mothers, the less-educated and so on)? To address these questions, we consider the experience of Britain, Sweden and the USA. Although they have diﬀerent social systems, in some important respects female labour supply in these three countries is relatively similar (see Table 3.1, which shows male and female labour force participation rates). We believe that a careful look at changes in female labour supply in these countries is useful for several reasons: it will increase our understanding of how female labour supply has been changing in these countries; it may help us determine the future course of female labour supply in...
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