Northwestern Events Calendar


Applied Microeconomics Lunch Seminar

When: Thursday, April 4, 2024
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CT

Where: Kellogg Global Hub, 3301, 2211 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Economics   (847) 491-8200

Group: Department of Economics: Applied Microeconomics Lunch

Category: Academic


Speaker: Myera Rashid

Title: Engine of Intergenerational Mobility: Typewriter Adoption and Women's Economic Outcomes

Abstract: Women’s economic outcomes changed dramatically over the last century, but there is scarce evidence on the role of workplace technological advances in fueling these changes. This paper studies the effects of the adoption of the typewriter into US workplaces on women's economic outcomes in the 20th century. Exploiting variation in the demand for typists across industries coupled with the geographic distribution of industries, I document that the adoption of the typewriter caused an increase in women's labor force participation and a decrease in their likelihood of being married and having children. I show that the mechanisms driving these developments operated through two main channels: there was a direct effect driving White women to leave the household and enter offices, and an indirect crowding-in effect that increased the participation of Black women, who substituted for White women by entering domestic service work. The typewriter also resulted in upward mobility for women through the channel of marriage. Using linked data following women over time, I show that typists were more likely to marry men of higher socioeconomic status compared to women working in alternative white-collar occupations. This result holds in a within-household analysis comparing sisters. This finding is consistent with a hypothesis that typing and secretarial occupations offered women a unique opportunity to work in offices alongside higher earning men. 


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