The Intergenerational Transmission of World War I on Female Labour

Victor Gay


Demographic shocks tied to World War I’s high death toll induced many women to enter the labour force in the immediate postwar period. I document a positive impact of these newly employed women on the labour force participation of subsequent generations of women until today. I also find that the war permanently altered attitudes toward the role of women in the labour force. I decompose this impact into three channels of intergenerational transmission: transmission from mothers to daughters, transmission from mothers-in-law to daughters-in-law via their sons, and transmission through local social interactions.

JEL codes

  • J16: Economics of Gender • Non-labor Discrimination
  • J22: Time Allocation and Labor Supply
  • N34: Europe: 1913-
  • Z13: Economic Sociology • Economic Anthropology • Social and Economic Stratification


Victor Gay, The Legacy of the Missing Men: The Long-Run Impact of World War I on Female Labor Force Participation, IAST Working Paper, n. 21-120, January 2021.

Published in

The Economic Journal, vol. 133, n. 654, August 2023, p. 2303–2333