Latin Women and Vocational Empowerment Research Paper

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By contrast, this was not found to be true for the Colombian couples. Instead, their level of relationship satisfaction was predicted by having a similar level of expressiveness between spouses, irrespective of whether the level was high, medium, or low (Ingoldsby, 1980). Likewise, Colombian women and men were determined to be are equally likely to say what they feel and to express themselves at the same level as North American males. In the United States, female spouses are typically significantly more expressive as a group than are their male counterparts (Ingoldsby, 1980).

In a significant recent paper, Bailey (2006) focuses on biotechnological discoveries in birth control methods that offered women greater power to choose the timing of childbearing. This power may have translated into higher investments in education and increased labor force participation of women. In an excellent paper, among other things, Goldin (1995) focused on technological International Research Journal of Finance and Economics - Issue 21 (2008) 136 advancements in the realm of household technologies (like micro-wave oven, dishwasher, vacuum cleaners etc.) that freed up ample amount of time for the women to concentrate on economically gainful activities or human capital accumulation.

That concept has been illustrated throughout the United States as the result of two specific advances that increased female independence and autonomy in the 20th century (Macionis, 2003). First, the introduction of oral contraception and its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960, and second, the subsequent landmark Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade that struck down state laws prohibiting abortion in the U.S. In 1973. Prior to that decision, the majority of American states prohibited elective abortion (Macionis, 2003).

As a result, unplanned pregnancy was the principal obstacle that prevented American women from achieving social and economic equality. This was especially true with respect to women living in relative poverty, because in many cases, the costs associated with interstate travel to one of the few American states that permitted elective abortion was prohibitive (Macionis, 2003). Meanwhile, women of relative economic means and/or whose families had the benefit of social connections were routinely able to obtain the diagnosis of "medical necessity" from complicit family physicians that enabled them to seek abortion procedures within their home states legally.

According to most sociologists and historians, it was precisely this reason that the availability of oral contraception and the legalization of elective abortion that enabled women to substantially reduce the social and economic inequality between men and women that had existed for centuries prior to the last half of the 20th century in the U.S. While much focus is often directed to the importance of employment patterns necessitated by wartime production efforts during the World War Two era, without liberation from the burden of unplanned pregnancy that enabled American women to exploit the social and economic potential of their increasing involvement in the American workforce thereafter (Healey, 2003; Macionis, 2003).

Moreover, as Bradbury & Katz (2005) noted much more recently than the immediate post World War Two era, today, even highly educated women with young children typically withdraw from the labor market much longer than strictly necessitated by medical concerns, mainly as a result of the great difficulties of balancing the responsibilities of motherhood and fulltime employment. This includes many women who had already established a career track that they never intended to abandon after a short departure immediately preceding and following their delivery dates (Bradbury & Katz, 2005).

This issue has been of crucial importance to Latin women living in the United States simply because Hispanics have been disproportionately represented within poor communities. Reproductive autonomy is obviously a very significant direct predictor of the successful acquisition of social and economic equality for poor women. In that regard, the comparative unavailability of autonomous rights of Latin women elsewhere (even if the result of prevailing social mores rather than formal legislation) still limits their upward mobility and their ability to achieve social independence from men in Latin communities.

Employment of Women

Changing social attitudes to female employment also provides good incentives for the women to enter the labor force (Rindfuss, Brewster, & Kavee, 1996). This is very important since social attitudes are not only important determinants of how women are likely to be treated in the professional fields but also reflect on how they are likely to be treated in their homes. Inflationary situations may adversely affect labor force participation of women. Fertility and education levels are also found have substantial impact on women's labor force participation decisions (see Devaney, 1983).

This pattern appears similar to the one that prevailed in the pre-industrial United States, where the marital focus was on agreement between spouses and task completion. Even shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, women were extremely under-represented in the American workforce (Healey, 2003; Henslin, 2002). During the first two decades of the postwar era, the numbers of women in the American workforce continued to increase, as did the age of women at first marriage, and divorce rates (Healey, 2003; Macionis, 2003). As more women in Latin America enter the labor force, it may be that marriages will shift from traditional to more companionate, as has occurred in the United States, where the emphasis is on emotional sharing.

A factor of migration is another element connected to choice and ability gained by women to enter the labor force. The tremendous increased participation of women in the American labor force was well documented, including by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to which, labor force participation of women increased from approximately 30% in 1948 to approximately 60% in 2005 (Hotchkiss, 2006). In other words, labor force participation of women has more or less doubled in a span of less than six decades.

Increased labor force participation of women has also been observed in international contexts, both in general, as well as with respect to married women in particular (Psacharopoulos & Zannatos, 1989; Blau & Kahn, 2005). The reasons for this great expansion in labor force participation of women have formed the body of a large and vibrant literature in economics, sociology, and demography. Important contributions come out every now and then and researchers often offer novel and interesting explanations for this extremely interesting topic.

Reproductive Autonomy and Female Empowerment

Statistical analyses show that, over the last four decades, labor market participation rates of women significantly increased, while fertility declined throughout the world. In principle, this relates directly to the choices that a woman can make and reduces the most significant choice to that between fertility and labor participation for Hispanic women. Labor force participation of women has also steadily increased market wages. One direct consequence observed in connection with that phenomenon is that increasing market wages can lead to a reduction in women's interest in devoting their lives and their efforts during their most productive years in household maintenance. Furthermore, the available evidence strongly suggests that fertility and reproductive control and family situations (like cultural origin traits) often have an adverse impact on the labor force participation of women.

These conclusions are the result of modeling labor force participation decisions of women under various scenarios, (like flexible intra-household sharing rules, varying degrees of gender inequality etc.) Although estimates of the causal relationship between fertility and female labor supply are mixed, the evidence suggests how much every additional child within a family affects work decisions and the average hours worked by mothers.

In that regard, statistical analysis shows that a decreasing trend in fertility corresponds directly to an increasing trend in female labor force participation throughout the world over the last four decades. Empirical studies using very different specifications and estimation techniques all indicate that fertility has distinctly negative effect on maternal labor supply simply because childbearing responsibilities invariably fall on women and women still have lower wage rates than men on average.

This negative relationship between fertility and female labor supply is explained by social, economic, and technical forces that affect fertility and female labor supply, including an increase in the value of women's time due to an increase in education levels of women, expensive childcare, and substitutes for children. Likewise, emphasis on quality instead of quantity of children; an increase in employment opportunities for women; changes in social norms towards supporting women working outside their home; and technical progress in birth control all contribute to the issues affecting the economic opportunities available to women, particularly in comparison to their male counterparts (Healey, 2003).

The available economic and demographic literature discusses two different effects of having an additional child in a household on maternal labor force participation. The specialization effect, named by Becker (1985), argued that an increase in family size would lead women to spend more time and energy on supplying child services because childbearing mostly falls on women. Meanwhile, men are likely to spend more energy and time in the…[continue]

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