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.
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.