When More Women Join the Workforce, Wages Rise — Including for Men

by Amanda Weinstein

Most of the conversation about women and work revolves around how the economy impacts women; we know comparatively less about how women in turn affect the economy. Differing female labor force participation rates across U.S. cities offers a good way to explore this. Research looks at Census data from 1980 to 2010 to study how women’s participation in the workforce influences wage growth in approximately 250 U.S. metropolitan areas. It found that as more women joined the workforce, they helped make cities more productive and increased wages. After accounting for various other factors that may affect female labor force participation rates and wage growth (such as industry concentration, average commute times, and housing prices), the models suggest that every 10% increase in the female labor force participation rate in a metropolitan area is associated with a 5% increase in median real wages for workers — both men and women. While the exact mechanism driving this is unclear, cities should consider how whether there is more that can be done to help more women enter the workforce. (Read the full article)