650 Childs Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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Join the PIPE Collaborative for their bi-weekly workshop featuring Pawel Janas (Caltech). Lunch will be served. 

Abstract: The rise in female labor force participation and the expansion of political rights for women stand out as two defining characteristics of the 20th century in the United States. While the predominant explanations for these trends emphasize long-term structural changes in the American economy, we focus on the impact of two brief yet devastating historical events: World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic. These events led to a significant number of "missing men", which potentially drew women into the formal labor market. Historical narratives underscore the significance of women entering this market and its implications for their political and economic rights during the interwar period. Using geographic variation created by the uneven distribution of the intensity of each event, we empirically test this narrative with novel data sources, including state political platforms, election results, World War I draft records, flu mortality data, and Census records. We then examine the influence of each historical event on female labor force participation in 1920 and support for state-level women's suffrage prior to the ratification of the 19th amendment, employing standard difference-in-differences techniques. Our preliminary findings suggest that both World War I and the flu pandemic led to a sustained increase in female labor force participation in cities and counties with a higher number of "missing men". However, these events did not appear to influence political support for women's suffrage. (joint work with Katarina Fedorov and Hanna Schwank)

 

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