CHESS Chart: America Isn’t Working

This Friday, Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard, will be discussing her paper “Career and Family: Collision or Confluence” with the Chess Workshop. Goldin shows how over the twentieth century women went from either having a family or job, to having a family and then job, to, following the introduction of the birth control pill in the 1960s, having both a family and a job. Today, there are more college-educated women than ever before, but the pay gap between women and men persists and more women continue to opt out of the labor force. To close the gap, she proposes increasing the flexibility given to workers, allowing them to work fewer and more predictable hours.

Although Goldin tells a story of women’s progress, the most recent Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisors to the President shows how Americans, and particularly women, are increasingly lagging behind their peers in other advanced countries in workforce participation. Historically, the United States was a leader in the percentage of women working, but, more recently, this has changed. American women in the between 24 and 54 are now about as likely to work as their Japanese counterparts. The decline is even more pronounced for men, although they continue to work in greater numbers than women. Many countries with greater labor participation also have stronger worker protections, early childcare provision, and flexible leave policies for parents. Is improving workplace flexibility enough to bring women back into the labor force? Join the discussion at CHESS next Friday, November 20 at 12:30 in Whitney Humanities Center, 208.

CEA Female Labor Participation p. 38

CEA Male Labor Participation Rate p. 37

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