The household revolution: childcare, housework, and female labor force participation
Series/Report no.Cahier de recherche #2013-07
Over the twentieth century, the allocation of womens' time changed dramatically. This paper explores the implications for the allocation of married womens' time stemming from: (1) the household revolution associated with the introduction of a variety of labor-saving devices in the home; (2) the remarkable increase in the relative wage of women; and (3) changes in childcare requirements associated with changes in fertility patterns. To do so, we construct a life-cycle model with home production and childcare constraints. The parameters of the childcare production function are estimated using micro evidence from U.S. time use data. We find that the increase in the relative wage of women is the most important explanation of the increase in married womens' market work time over the twentieth century. Changes in fertility had large effects up to 1980, but little effect thereafter. The declining price of durables has an appreciable effect only since 1980, an effect that is consistent with a broader interpretation of durable goods reflecting the marketization of home production.