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The Role of Gender in Biased Technical Change: U.S. Manufacturing, 1850–1919

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2009

Elizabeth Field-Hendrey
Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY 11367. E-mail: efh$


Differential treatment of men and women in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century labor markets casts doubt on the common practice of adding male and female labor to create a single “labor” variable in the production function. This article shows that men and women must be disaggregated in the production function, and investigates the effects of inappropriate aggregation on the debate over the Habakkuk-Rothbarth labor scarcity hypothesis. With disaggregation, a female-using bias and an overall labor-using bias is found for the period 1850 through 1919. Technical change was male-neutral through 1900 and male-using thereafter.

Copyright © The Economic History Association 1998

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