584 PART NINE THE REAL ECONOMY IN THE LONG RUN CASE STUDY LABOR-FORCE PARTICIPATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE U.S. ECONOMY Women’s role in American society has changed dramatically over the past cen-tury. Social commentators have pointed to many causes for this change. In part, it is attributable to new technologies such as the washing machine, clothes dryer, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher, which have reduced the amount of time required to complete routine household tasks. In part, it is attributable to improved birth control, which has reduced the number of children born to the typical family. And, of course, this change in women’s role is also partly at-tributable to changing political and social attitudes. Together these develop-ments have had a profound impact on society in general and on the economy in particular. Nowhere is that impact more obvious than in data on labor-force participa-tion. Figure 26-3 shows the labor-force participation rates of men and women in the United States since 1950. Just after World War II, men and women had very
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