A survey of the factors affecting the labor force participation of married women with children
Holth, Allen A
Seagrove, Charles E.
Master of Arts
Much of the recent literature on labor force participation points out that the most noticeable change in participation patterns has occured in the class of married women, with husbands present. Most of these studies also point out that the presence of children is a factor which reduces the propensity of the married women with children to enter the labor force. Current data on labor force participation not only indicate that the participation of married women with children is increasing, but that it is increasing at a faster rate than any other major segment of the population. It would seem that the presence of children is becoming less of a hindrance to the labor force participation decision of the Mother. This could be caused by a reduction of the age spread between the youngest and oldest child in the family, a reduction in the average number of children in a family, or by the increased availability of substitutes for the mother's care for her children. This thesis surveys time series data on factors which affect the labor force participation of married women in general and also those factors which have a special effect on married women with children. The general factors, such as income, education, and location are all moving in directions which would he consistent with the increased participation of the female. The factors which affect the married woman with children are also moving in directions which should lead to an increased labor force participation. The average family size has been decreasing since 1968. There was a trend in the earlier decades of this century which indicated a reduction in the age spread from the youngest to oldest child in the family. Whether this trend has continued to this day is unknown. Certainly the recent developments in family planning should have some effect on the age spread. The most dramatic chances have occured in the availability of substitutes for the mother's care for her children. Although nursery schools have been with us for years, interest in child care facilities started to increase with the entry of the government into the child care field with their "Head Start" program. Since that time, religious, educational, corporate, and private profit-making enterprises have entered this field and this has led to a doubling of the available facilities during a recent four year period. Although there is great interest in the child care field at the present time, this interest is relatively new and data is not available except for the last five years. This situation should change as child care becomes one of the major social issues of the seventies.