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Abstract

In this dissertation, I provide a comprehensive analysis of the short and long-run impact of World War I military fatalities on female labor force participation in France. In chapter 1, I describe the measure of military death rates used throughout the dissertation and explore its sources of systematic variation. In chapter 2, I show that the scarcity of men resulting from the war generated an upward shift in female labor force participation that persisted throughout the interwar period. Increased female labor supply accounts for this result: deteriorated marriage market conditions for single women and negative income shocks to war widows induced many of these women to enter the labor force after the war. In contrast, firms did not increase their demand for female labor to compensate for the scarcity of men. I further show in chapter 3 that this initial shock to female labor transmitted across generations up until today. Three primary mechanisms account for this historical persistence: vertical intergenerational transmission (from mothers and fathers to daughters), transmission through marriage (from husbands to wives, and from mothers in-law to daughters in-law), and oblique intergenerational transmission (from migrants to non-migrants). Consistent with theories of intergenerational transmission, I also provide evidence that World War I military fatalities permanently altered preferences and beliefs toward female labor.

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