STUMP » Articles » Labor force participation rates, part 5: the Gender Gap » 3 July 2014, 01:41

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Labor force participation rates, part 5: the Gender Gap   


3 July 2014, 01:41

In my prior four posts, I have been plotting male and female labor force participation rates in separate graphs.

In this post, I will compare the rates directly by plotting the differences in labor force participation rates.

First, in prime working years: (25 – 54)

As per the first post on these stats, we’ve mainly seen the gap narrow from 1976-2000ish, and since 2000ish the gap has remained more or less level. This graph really doesn’t show anything different. Interesting that the gap is widest for those age 30-39, and not younger. A data set for another time — fertility rates for women in their 30s has really increased recently, while for those in their 20s has decreased (and for teenagers, it’s decreased amazingly.)

Second, at older ages: (55 and up)

Wow, that’s pretty dramatic. Older women have really closed the gap a great deal, but then, as one gets older and older, fewer and fewer men are working.

Lastly, at younger ages: (under 24)

Note that there are negative differences for teenagers — more teenaged girls work and teenaged boys. Interesting. There’s almost no difference for those age 18-19.

My main point in looking at these stats is that sometimes there are short-term patterns as the NYT article noticed, but you’re not given any reference point as to whether this is just an extension of a long-term trend (and a lot of it was for those in prime working ages, as well at older ages), or if it might be something of more recent vintage (such as the great decrease in labor force participation rates for those age 20-24).

The only thing I’m seeing in these trends that I would characterize as a problem is that great decrease in labor force participation rates for those age 20-24. I don’t like the look of that at all. I have no policy proscriptions to advance to fix that problem, except to reduce the amount of unskilled labor as competition (=cough= illegal immigration =cough=). But that comes along with a lot of stuff other than reduced employment for youngsters.

There may be other labor force stats (such as wages) that I would also find concerning, but that’s for another time.

Related Posts
Labor force participation rates, part 3: Older folks (55 and up)
Labor force participation rates, part 2: Younger Years (under 25) - Bad news?
Stat Crunching: Labor Force Participation Rate Trends, Prime Working Years