The labor force gender gap is closing, but a rise in female participation in the workforce isn’t the only factor at play--the percentage of men in the labor force is apparently declining as well. 

The Pew Research Center reports a steady dwindling in male participation in the workforce since the 1950s, and drawing on two recent analyses of census data, Pew laid out this trend and some potential triggers behind it. 

Two economists, Stefania Albanesi and Aysegul Sahin--of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York--found that the workforce gender gap has closed to about 12 percentage points. According to their findings, male participation rates in the workforce fell from 80 percent in 1970 to 70.2 percent in 2012. Conversely, over that same period, female rates of participation increased from 43 percent to 57.7 percent. 


“Women have become less likely to leave employment for nonparticipation--a sign of increased labor force attachment--while men have become more likely to leave the labor force from unemployment and less likely to re-enter the labor force once they leave it--a sign of decreased labor force attachment,” Albanesi and Sahin wrote in a working paper


The researchers cited another study by MIT which found the reasons a growing number of men either opting out of, or incapable of entering the labor force were: not acquiring the necessary job skills, diminishing authority of unions, globalization, technological change and changes in family structure. 

Published on: Sep 12, 2013