Working paper

The Legacy of the Missing Men: The Long-Run Impact of World War I on Female Labor Force Participation

Victor Gay


This article explores the pathways that underlie the diffusion of women’s participation in the labor force across generations. I exploit a severe exogenous shock to the sex ratio, World War I in France, which generated a large inflow of women in the labor force after the war. I show that this shock to female labor transmitted to subsequent generations until today. Three mechanisms of intergenerational transmission account for this result: parental transmission, transmission through marriage, and transmission through local social interactions. Beyond behaviors, the war also permanently altered beliefs toward the role of women in the labor force.


Female labor force participation; World War I; Sex ratio; Intergenerational transmission; Gender norms;

Replaced by

Victor Gay, The Intergenerational Transmission of World War I on Female Labour, The Economic Journal, vol. 133, n. 654, August 2023, p. 2303–2333.

See also

Published in

IAST Working Paper, n. 21-120, January 2021