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Life-cycle employment profiles of married women born between 1940 and 1960 shifted upwards and became flatter. We calibrate a dynamic life-cycle model of employment decisions of married women to assess the quantitative importance of three competing explanations of the change in employment profiles: the decrease and delay in fertility, the increase in relative wages of women to men, and the decline in child-care costs. We find that the decrease and delay in fertility and the decline in child-care cost affect employment very early in life, while increases in relative wages affect employment increasingly with age. Changes in relative wages, in particular returns to experience, account for the bulk (67 percent) of changes in life-cycle employment of married women.


This work was originally published in Journal for Labour Market Research.

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