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Well done Stephen! It's great for me to see these charts. Like you, I was looking at the recessions, and the cyclicality of male/female unemployment.

I'd caution the straightforward interpretation of the 1950s recession as a 'he'-cession.

Look at the combined labour force participation rate (employed + unemployed): in the 1950s men were almost universally in the labour force, whereas only 26-32% of women were. If the "in the labour force" designation was sticky, then we'd expect a priori a labour demand shock to affect the same fraction of men and women who were in the labour force.

That's closer to what we see. Around 1960, from these charts the male population was 90% employed and 7% unemployed, whereas the female population was 30% (ish) employed and 4% unemployed. 7.2% of men in the labour force were unemployed, and 11.7% of women in the labour force were unemployed.

I feel like the unemployment rate can be misleading. The employment rates show smoother recessions for women throughout the series, so it seems like recessions that feature equal or greater female unemployment might also indicate women entering the workforce to make up for lost male income. Notably, the biggest gap in unemployment is the late '70s, which isn't a recession at all. That effect has now mostly played out, so empoloyment and unemployment rates tell the same story toward the end of the series.

Is there any historical labour force data available which separates out fathers from male non-fathers and mothers from female non-mothers?

We have lots of data showing that at the present time being a parent is correlated with men working more and women working less (in paid employment, that is), so graphs like the first one here make me wonder if we're largely ignoring an effect from changes in the birth rate: If women have 0-2 children each, they'll have far more years of "not caring for young children" than if they have 5-10 children each. How much of the increase in female employment rates from 1955 to 2010 can be explained by a population shift from "mostly with children" to "mostly without children"?

This is fantastic, Stephen.

I'd second the comments about being careful about the interpretation of unemployment figures for women in old data. My guess is that the measures of unemployment would be quite gender-biased, so women who had some kind of household responsibilities wouldn't be considered to be unemployed on the grounds that they were not available for work. I find the employment rate is a nicer way of measuring female's participation in the paid labour market.

Great piece! Sylvia Ostry's 'The Female Worker in Canada', published in 1968, discusses FLFP trends dating back to 1911 and is archived at https://archive.org/details/1961995531968eng . Its main focus is the 1961 census.

Thanks *so* much for the reference! Already downloaded!

Frances: as Québec humorist Yvon Deschamps once said "Moman travaille pas, a trop d'ouvrage" "Mom doesn't work. She's too busy"
https://amecq.ca/2017/05/16/moman-travaille-pas/ (the link is not to his monologue but to a real article...)

Jacques Rene - For sure!That's an interesting article, thanks for the link.

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