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Work Environment



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Work Environment and Opt Out Rates at Motherhood Across High Education Career Paths Jane Leber Herr Catherine Wolfram September 2010 Abstract We study the relationship between work environment and mothers labor force participation Using data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates and a sample of Harvard alumnae we find large variation in mothers labor force attachment across high education fields Mindful of possible selection across graduate degrees we use the rich information available in each dataset and the longitudinal nature of the Harvard data to assess the extent to which these patterns may reflect variation in the difficulty of combining work with family While it is difficult to rule out selection entirely our evidence suggests that non family friendly work environments push women out of the labor force at motherhood We would like to thank Marianne Bertrand Dan Black David Card Constanc a EstevesSorenson Claudia Goldin Jason Grissom Robert LaLonde Ioana Marinescu Annalisa Mastri Emily Oster Rebecca Ryan Lucie Schmidt Jesse Shapiro and seminar participants at the University of Chicago U C Berkeley the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Michigan for their comments and suggestions We would also like to thank Joshua Langenthal Marci Glazer Charles Jones and Zachary Leber for the use of their Harvard anniversary reports Jessica Chen Margaret Gough Cathy Hwang Omar Jabri Tatyana Shmygol and Jenny Zhuo for providing excellent research assistance and Peter Jacobs for providing our estimated salaries The Harris School of Public Policy Studies University of Chicago 1155 East 60th Street Chicago IL 60637 jlherr uchicago edu Haas School of Business University of California Berkeley Berkeley CA 94720 1900 and NBER wolfram haas berkeley edu 1 Introduction One of the most profound social changes of the 20th century has been the dramatic increase in the number of women in the labor force Recent statistics however suggest that the



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