The Demographic Transition and the Sexual Division of Labor
This paper presents a theory where increases in female labor force participation and reductions in the gender wage-gap are generated as part of the same process of demographic transition that leads to reductions in fertility. There have been significant increases in the labor supply of women in the last decades, both in developed and developing countries. Traditional views explain this trend through the effects of reduced fertility and/or increased women's wages. The paper suggests that all these changes can be understood as part of a single process of demographic change, triggered by reductions in mortality. Mortality reductions affect the incentives of individuals to invest in human capital and to have children. Particularly, gains in adult longevity reduce fertility, increase investments in market human capital, increase female labor force participation, and reduce the wage differential between men and women. Child mortality reductions cannot generate this same pattern of changes. The model reconciles the increase in female labor market participation with the timing of age-specific mortality reductions observed during the demographic transition. The paper presents the first model to link the change in the role of women in society to, ultimately, the reductions in mortality that characterize the demographic transition
gender wage gap, demographic transition, female labor force participation
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