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Study: Appliances Changed the Role of Women in the 1960s
Feb 9, 2011
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The labor-savings offered by washers, dryers, and freezers enabled a dramatic increase in married women entering the workforce in the 1960s, according to research from Notre Dame economist Steven Lugauer published in Labour Economics. He and his colleagues used U.S. census data showing appliance ownership by married women and their likelihood of entering the workforce.

Lugauer reports that both women’s labor force participation and households ownership of appliances increased significantly from 1960-1970:
-working married women increased from 33% to 43%
-households owning washers, dryers and freezers increased from 11% to 28%

He reports that the there was little change in the percentage of working single women during 1960-1970.

“Accepted wisdom had been that appliances in the house actually cause women to work more inside the home rather than liberating them to work outside the home,” Lugauer said. He was referring to a 1980’s book, “More Work for Mother,” reporting an economic study on the impact of household appliances.

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