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November 2012, Vol. 135, No. 11
Older women: pushed into retirement in the 1970s and 1980s by the baby boomers?
Diane J. Macunovich
Diane J. Macunovich is chair of the department of economics at the University of Redlands, Redlands, CA and IZA research fellow. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The labor force participation of older women in the United States, like that of younger women, has changed dramatically over the past 40 years, but the patterns for the two groups have differed markedly. While the participation of women ages 25–34—particularly married women— increased dramatically in the 1970s and early 1980s before beginning to level off, the participation of women ages 55–69 actually declined marginally between 1970 and 1985, and only then began a pronounced and steady increase which has not yet abated. This article looks at why these patterns have diverged so markedly. Another time of divergence was the immediate post-World War II period, when the labor force participation of older women increased while that of young women declined.
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