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Women in their forties.

WOMEN IN THEIR FORTIES. By age 40, most women have completed some important lifetime events such as schooling and childbearing. But many women in their forties are actively participating in the labor force and face a number of labor market and marital status decisions, which often are interrelated.

Significant differences exist for these women in their labor force attachment and marital status by race and education. In particular, women in their forties who were high school dropouts worked substantially fewer weeks than their more educated counterparts, were less likely to be in the labor force at age 40 and at age 49, and also were less likely to be married at age 40 and at age 49.

Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women were used to track the experiences of women as they aged from 40 to 49 during the 1967-86 period. Information in this report is from a sample of women who were between the ages of 30 and 45 in 1967 and who have been interviewed regularly since. The sample is restricted to women between the ages of 40 and 49 for whom there is complete information. Consequently, the data reported here refer to the experiences of women born between 1927 and 1936 and who aged from 40 to 49 during the 1967-86 period.

Participation. About two-thirds of women in their forties were in the same labor force status at age 49 as age 40. About 38 percent were in the labor force at both ages, and about 29 percent were out of the labor force. Approximately a third of the women changed labor force participation status. About 13 percent of the women out of the labor force at age 40 were in the labor force at age 49. Overall, about 26 percent of those who were in the labor force at age 40 were out at age 49, and about 41 percent who were out of the labor force at age 40 were participants at age 49.

Nonwhite women were more likely than white women to be in the labor force at age 40 and at age 49. They also were more likely to move from in the labor force at age 40 to out of the labor force at 49. They were less likely than white women to move from out of the labor force at age 40 to in the labor force at age 49, and to be out of the labor force at age 40 and at age 49.

Approximately 46 percent of college educated women were in the labor force at ages 40 and 49-more than any other educational group. In contrast, about 33 percent of high school dropouts and 40 percent of high school graduates were in the labor force at both ages. Also, about a third of high school dropouts were out of the labor force at both ages-the highest proportion of the educational groups.

There is no definitive pattern in labor force participation rates by birth year. However, women in their forties born after 1930 were more likely to be in the labor force at age 40 and age 49 and less likely to be out of the labor force at both ages than were women born between 1927 and 1930.

Weeks worked. More than 85 percent of women in their forties worked and, on average, they worked 289 weeks over the 10-year period; if they had worked "full year" each year, they would have worked about 480-520 weeks. Only 1 of 7 (14.3 percent) of the women did not work at all between ages 40 and 49; 1 of 4 (23.5 percent) worked 480 weeks or more.

Among women in their forties, nonwhite women worked about 12 weeks more than did white women, on average. This difference appears to occur primarily because a higher percentage of white women of these ages did not work at all during the period, while a greater percentage of their nonwhite counter-parts worked full year. College-educated women worked more weeks than did women without a college education, on average, and women without a high school diploma worked fewer weeks than women in all other educational groups. College-educated women worked about 88 weeks more than did high school dropouts. Women with less than a high school education were less likely to work full year throughout their forties, and more apt not to work at all, than women in other educational groups.

Women born after 1930 averaged more weeks worked (about 300) than those born between 1927 and 1930 (270 weeks). This difference appears to have occurred because a higher proportion of women born after 1930 worked 240 weeks or more.

Marital status. The majority of women (72.2 percent) were married at age 40 and age 49 (although not necessarily to the same husband). Nearly 14 percent of the women were single at both ages. Ten percent changed marital status from married at age 40 to single at age 49; 3.9 percent changed from single to married.

While more than 75 percent of white women were married at age 40 and age 49, less than half of nonwhite women were married at both ages. Compared to white women, nonwhite women were more likely to be single at both ages and to have changed marital status.

Although a definitive pattern does not appear in marital status transitions by educational category, women with less than a high school education were the least likely to be married at age 40 and age 49. High school dropouts were the most likely to be single at both ages.

Women who were born in later years were slightly less likely to be married at age 40 and age 49 than those born in earlier years. More than 74 percent of women born in 1927 and 1928 were married at both ages, compared with about 7 0 percent of women born in 1935 and 1936.

THE STUDY, Work and Family: Women in their Forties, BLS Report 843, is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Publications and Special Studies, Washington, DC 20212-00001.
COPYRIGHT 1993 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:1018
Previous Article:Women's Two Roles: A Contemporary Dilemma.
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