Why Did Women Emerge?

  • Barbara R. Bergmann

Abstract

The liberation of women from exclusive domesticity did not originate in feminist books, or a war, or a big inflation, although those things did contribute to its progress. The rising enrollment of women in the paid labor forces of the developed world is a straightforward consequence of the industrial revolution of over two hundred years ago. That revolution has produced a long and continuing rise in the productivity of labor in the developed nations of the world. Economic progress has steadily raised the wage for an hour’s labor—the price of human beings’ time. Women have had to sell their time at a cheaper rate than men, and still must do so. But over the decades, the price employers have paid for women’s time has steadily risen along with the price paid for men’s. The key to women’s economic emergence is that their time has risen in price until it has become too valuable to be spent entirely in the home.

Keywords

Burning Depression Europe Income Expense 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (New York: Macmillan, 1912).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982).Google Scholar
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© Barbara R. Bergmann 2005

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  • Barbara R. Bergmann

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