Essays in Labor Economics
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CitationCook-Stuntz, Elizabeth Ann. 2016. Essays in Labor Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn my first chapter, I consider the long-term effects of World War II on women. WWII drew women into the workforce in unprecedented numbers and, often, into atypical occupations. After the war, they returned home where they became the mothers of the baby boom generation. Their daughters changed the female labor force by pursuing higher education and careers. My research analyzes whether cultural change during World War II helped to produce this break with the past. I use data on war manufacturing infrastructure and armed forces mobilization rates to predict whether the daughters were affected by the war's impact on their mothers. I also construct a measure of predicted war plants using pre-war infrastructure to remove the possibility of an endogenous decision to locate plants where women were particularly amenable to employment. My analysis shows that these war-related variables increased baby boomer women's education, although not their labor force participation. The primary impact was on their attainment of a college degree. The Quiet Revolution in women's employment, careers and education was therefore impacted greatly by their mothers' experiences before their daughters were born.
My second chapter also considers intergenerational impacts on women's careers, though in a more contemporary context. This chapter considers the effect of a stay-at-home mother on her daughter's career choice, specifically her tendency to choose her father's career. I provide some descriptive statistics of women who choose to be homemakers and those who have chosen their parents' occupations. I hypothesize that a woman with a stay-at-home mom is more likely to choose her father's career, given that she lacks a female occupational role model in the home. I find no conclusive evidence of this, even when I only examine women in competitive careers. However, I do find statistically significant effects of the community in which she grows up. Women who grew up in communities where women were employed in competitive careers are less likely to choose their father's careers. Communities with men who are employed in competitive careers are more likely to produce women who inherit their father's occupation. Such a decision proves highly advantageous, since women in their father's careers earn more, while women in their mother's careers earn less.
My final chapter focuses on the rural South and analyzes trends in segregation due to private schools. Though in less extreme conditions than during the 1960's, school children are still segregated by race. Throughout the United States, this primarily occurs because of residential segregation. But there exists a unique pattern and opportunity in the heart of the South, its rural communities. Segregation in the rural South occurs largely through the presence of private schools. This is fascinating in that different races can live relatively near each other but never go to school together. White students' enrollment in private schools is highly dependent on the black proportion of the student population. Thus, black students in public schools in largely black areas have even fewer white peers. Segregation due to private schools is highest within the Cotton Belt, a region historically known for racism. The evidence is also consistent with a detrimental effect of private schools on public school funding. I find that rural Southern school districts with high levels of private school segregation also have low levels of school resources per student, even after controlling for what the median voter could afford. Using votes for segregationist presidential candidate Strom Thurmond as an instrument for segregation due to private schools only strengthens the results. Moreover, the recent increases in white enrollment at private schools may be slowly increasing racial separation due to private schools.
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