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Sex and the Business Cycle

Wall, Howard J. (2018): Sex and the Business Cycle. Forthcoming in: Applied Economics

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Abstract

This paper reconsiders the differences between the sexes in the depths, lengths, timing, and employment effects of recessions in the United States. I find that, prior to the mid-1980s, female employment was in recession less frequently than male employment, but that the opposite has been true since then. Also, monthly employment growth forgone because of recession was roughly the same for women and men prior to the mid 1980s, but was substantially greater for men afterwards. Accounting for the sex-specific timing of recessions, as well as for forgone employment growth, (1) the negative effects of recessions on both female and male employment are much larger than is usually found, (2) male employment is hit relatively harder by recessions, and (3) the difference between the sexes in the employment effects of recession is much smaller than the previous literature indicates.

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