Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis presents a critique of two general theoretical approaches to the study of growth in female work attachment: the structural coercion approach and the voluntarist approach. Given the common practice among those who subscribe to the structural coercion tradition to oversimplify patterns of women's work, one hypothesis predicts that factors which impact positively (or negatively) on a woman's probability of entry into the work force may exert the same impact on her probability of leaving. Secondly, many structural coercionists fail to make a unique prediction of the determinants of change in attachment. In contrast, voluntarists identify the growth of tastes for market work as a key determinant. As a result, it is hypothesized that the growth in work attachment on the part of recent birth cohorts is less responsive to demographic and economic constraints and more responsive to emerging tastes for market work.;Both hypotheses are tested on work history data contained in the 1984 Canadian Fertility Survey. Using a Weibull accelerated failure time model, the rate at which ever-married women leave spells of employment and non-employment is modelled as a function of a set of demographic, economic and taste influences. To facilitate a study of trends in behaviour, this process is repeated for three separate birth cohorts.;In support of the first hypothesis, results indicated that a number of traditional constraints which have prevented women in the past from entering the labour force such as husband's income and number of children less than age six, operated to discourage them from leaving. In contrast, higher education, which has served to facilitate entry into employment, resulted in a high rate of exit.;In terms of the second hypothesis, results were mixed. Demographic predictors such as child status and age gained strength among recent cohorts for each of the three employment transitions under consideration. However, in terms of leaving employment, the influence of marital status on work attachment diminished. Education, as a measure of tastes for market work, increased in strength among recent birth cohorts.;It is concluded that future attempts at modelling female work attachment should be firmly grounded on a more comprehensive theoretical approach which gives equal weight to demographic, economic and taste influences.



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