No Better Time Than Now

Michael Albertus, and Victor Gay


This paper explores pathways that underlie the diffusion of women’s participation in the labor force across generations. I leverage a severe exogenous shock to the sex ratio, World War I in France, which generated an upward shift in female labor force participation after the war. This shock to female labor transmitted to subsequent generations until today. Three mechanisms of intergenerational transmission account for this result—vertical (from parents to daughters), through marriage (from mothers-in-law to daughters-in-law), and oblique (from internal migrants to non-migrants). Beyond behavior, the war also altered beliefs toward the role of women in the labor force permanently


Authoritarianism; Political elites; Uncertainty; Investment; Comparative politics; Game theory;

JEL codes

  • D8: Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
  • F21: International Investment • Long-Term Capital Movements
  • P16: Political Economy

Published in

Economics & Politics, vol. 31, n. 1, March 2019, pp. 71–96