Papapete swings and misses:
Umm, Vox, you have a little problem with those two points. Both are correct, but women entered the work force in large numbers in the 1960s. Therefore if your theory is correct, real wages shouldn’t have peaked as late as 1973, they should have gone down much earlier in inverse relationship to the proportion of women in the workforce.
Come on. Do you honestly think I’m going to shoot my mouth off on something as controversial as this without being loaded for bear? See the Bureau of Labor Statistics for annual details.
1970 29,688,000 (40.8%) 48,990,000 (76.2%)
1980 42,117,000 (47.7%) 57,186,000 (72.0%)
1990 53,689,000 (54.3%) 65,104,000 (72.0%)
2000 63,586,000 (57.5%) 73,305,000 (71.9%)
Guess which column is which? Now, the percentage of women certainly increased from 1950 to 1970 (from 29.6 percent to 40.8 percent), but even so, their numbers more than doubled again from 1970 to 2000. It’s worth noting that during this time, the number of men not in the labor force also more than doubled, from 13 million to 27 million.
If 70 percent of percent of women had remained outside the labor force, as they did in 1950, there would be 32.7 million women in the labor force and the average real wage would be 29 percent higher than it is today. Would a raise of almost one-third enable most men to allow their wives to stay at home with the children instead of working? In most cases, I suspect the answer would be yes.