Labor market characteristics and the labor force participation of individuals

by Ross Stolzenberg, Linda Waite

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Most research on married women's labor force participation relates characteristics of individual women to their probability of labor force participation. Here the authors take a quintessentially sociological perspective and seek to understand how characteristics of geographic areas structure the relationship between properties of individual women and their probabilities of labor force participation. The analysis has two steps. In step one, they fit individual-level probit models of married women's probability of labor force participation. A separate model is fitted in each of 409 areas using 1970 census data, and the relationship between individual characteristics and the labor force participation is found to vary substantially across areas. In step two, they attempt to explain a real variation in the effects of women's children on their labor force participation. Weighted least squares analyses of probit coefficients from the first stage are, in general, very consistent with the findings, and suggest that the approach taken in this paper is likely to be a fruitful one for future studies.

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