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March 1982, Vol. 105, No. 3
New worklife estimates reflect
changing profile of labor force
Shirley J. Smith
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has developed a new set of working life tables based on labor force patterns observed in 1977. On the basis of these patterns, the Bureau estimates that the average man 16 years of age can expect to spend 38.5 years in the labor force while a typical woman of that age can expect 27.7 years of labor force involvement.
Patterns of lifetime labor force attachment for both men and women are constantly changing. Comparisons of labor force participation rates from year to year suggest evolving patterns of labor force entry and withdrawal, as well as significant changes in economic activity at midlife. However, it is difficult to identify the current "lifetime pattern of labor force involvement" from these rates alone.
Working life tables were developed to isolate such lifetime patterns. The results of the model are synthetic. That is, they summarize the behavior of all age groups in the population during a given year, rather than trace the history of any one group through its lifetime. The tables estimate how frequently members of a population would enter and leave the labor force, and how long the average person would remain economically active, if rates of behavior remained as they were in the reference year.
This excerpt is from an article published in the March 1982 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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