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Competition, Race, and the Measurement of Female Labor Activity

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Not all groups compete equally in the labor market. Here, we focus on women’s competition with men for jobs. This competition assumes that women’s employment is affected by men’s, and vice versa. We use two statistics—female labor force participation and share—to uncover this competition. 1990 U.S. census data on 281 metropolitan statistical areas were analyzed using weighted least squares regression. Supply-side explanations of female labor activity (education, children, household headship, and government assistance) receive more support than demand-side explanations (poverty, industrial mix, and region). Evidence of competition along gender and race lines is found. Men’s employment is buttressed in metropolitan areas by higher wages, less poverty, and more women with children. Welfare benefits (AFDC) and deindustrialization lower black women’s employment, while only white women benefit from advanced education and a “feminized” occupational structure. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Georgia State University

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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