Mounir Karadja, Uppsala University

"Cities and the Rise of Working Women"


This paper documents the unique role large cities played in women’s economic and social advances in the early 20th century. We show that women in large cities in Europe and the United States were substantially more likely to be in the labor force, half a century before the aggregate rise in female labor force participation. To establish the role of large cities for women’s labor-market advances, we turn to the case of Sweden where women can be linked over time in census data. Women moving to Sweden’s largest city, the capital Stockholm, were about 50 percentage points more likely to enter the labor force and less likely to marry and have children compared to their migrant sisters. An early structural shift towards services and social interactions between working women partly explain the early labor-market advances of women in large cities.

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