A comparative study of women's labor force status in three industrialized countries



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This thesis compares women's labor force status in three countries: France, Japan and the United States, between 1950 and 1980. I have compared not only women in these three nations but also their relative position to men. Women's labor force status is operationalized using three variables, women’s participation in the labor force, the proportion of the labor force which is female, and women's earnings relative to men. In order to explain variations in women’s labor force status, I have focused on the following structural and social variables: the economic structure, mainly the relative size of the tertiary sector in the economy, the sex ratio, household division of labor, educational attainment, the proportion of non married women in the population, and the fertility rate. First, I presented a detailed account of the situation of women in the three countries and described the social structural and cultural aspects peculiar to each nation, as well as the social and legal changes that have occurred since 1950. Then, I analysed census data for each country at four points in time, 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1980, in a comparative fashion. The results show that American and French women share a similar labor force status, although French women do fare better in terms of relative earnings. Japanese women are relatively more disadvantaged. The main variables explaining these variations are of an economic nature, mainly variation in the size of the tertiary sector, but there are also other important differences, such as the proportion of non-married women, relative educational attainment and the household division of labor.



Women--Employment--France, Women--Employment--Japan, Women--Employment--United States