Women’s participation pattern is now more like men’s

January 09, 2004

Women’s pattern of labor force participation by age more closely resembles that of men than it did a few decades ago.

Labor force participation rates by sex and age, 1970 and 2002
[Chart data—TXT]

In 1970, the impact of marriage and motherhood on women’s participation rate was very evident. Participation peaked at ages 20-24, dropped at ages 25-34, and rose again to a second peak at ages 45-54. On the chart, these rates resemble the letter "M."

By 2002, the pattern of peaks and valley was no longer evident. As women added the role of worker to their more traditional family roles, their labor force participation pattern in 2002 more closely resembled the inverted "U" of men’s participation rates.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information on women in the labor force, see "Women at work: a visual essay," in the October 2003 Monthly Labor Review.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Women’s participation pattern is now more like men’s on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2004/jan/wk1/art05.htm (visited September 28, 2016).


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