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Economic Brief

November 2015, No. 15-11

Why Are Women Leaving the Labor Force?

Maria E. Canon, Helen Fessenden and Marianna Kudlyak

The female labor force participation (LFP) rate has dropped steadily since 2000, especially among single women. At the same time, the percentage of single women has grown as a share of the female population, a trend that has increased the impact of the single women's LFP rate on the aggregate women's LFP rate. An analysis of data from the Current Population Survey shows that a growing percentage of single women who are not in the labor force are going to school. Meanwhile, an increasing share of married women list retirement as the reason for no longer participating in the labor force.

Additional Resources

Aaronson, Daniel, Luojia Hu, Arian Seifoddini, and Daniel G. Sullivan, "Declining Labor Force Participation and Its Implications for Unemployment and Employment Growth," Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Economic Perspectives, Fourth Quarter 2014, vol. 38, pp. 100-138.

Balakrishnan, Ravi, Mai Dao, Juan Solé, and Jeremy Zook, "Lost Workers," International Monetary Fund, Finance and Development, September 2015, vol. 52, no. 3.

Barnichon, Regis, and Andrew Figura, "Declining Desire to Work and Downward Trends in Unemployment and Participation," and associated comments and discussion in NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2015, Martin Eichenbaum and Jonathan Parker (eds.), vol. 30. (Preliminary drafts are available online.)

Kudlyak, Marianna, Thomas A. Lubik, and Jonathan Tompkins, "Accounting for the Non-Employment of U.S. Men, 1968–2010," Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Economic Quarterly, Fourth Quarter 2011, vol., 97, no. 4, pp. 359-387.

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