We find that Economic development generally shifts the locus of production from the family farm and business to the factory and other places of wage labor. These shifts often occur because of increased relative productivity outside family enterprises. Rather than working for the family, there is now the option of wage labor in agriculture and manufacturing at increased remuneration. However, much of this depends on the existence of a social norm or stigma against married women’s working at manual labor in agriculture, industry, construction, and transportation. The social stigma against wives working in paid manual labor outside the home is apparently widespread and strong. It almost always attaches to the work of women in male-intensive industries (e.g., mining, iron and steel), but also exists in female-intensive (e.g., clothing, textiles) arid mixed industries (e.g. food processing). Goldin suggests that the rise in the U comes at a considerably more advanced stage of economic development, and in most countries it surfaces only as female education levels have increased beyond elementary school. As women gain education at the secondary school level and can obtain positions in the white-collar sector their labor force participation rates increase.
Both effects — increased education and increased white-collar employment– Impact the labor force participation of women, particularly those who are married and older. The social stigma against a wife’s working generally does not exist for occupations in office work and sales, even when it is very strong in manual labor. Thus increased education of women, particularly at the secondary school level, will increase the female share of office and sales employment. The young women whose educational levels increase and who become office workers upon graduation will marry, have children, exit from the labor force, and then return to the work force later in their lives. Thus part of the rising portion of the U-shaped function may trace out the increase in women’s secondary schooling and their employment in the clerical and sales sectors of the various economies